Research, teaching and student support transformed by record-breaking fundraising campaign | University of Oxford
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Some 170,000 philanthropists have contributed to the campaign since it began in 2004

John Cairns

Research, teaching and student support transformed by record-breaking fundraising campaign

Innovative research programmes, highly advanced new buildings and generous support packages for students have all been created thanks to Oxford University’s £3.3 billion Oxford Thinking fundraising campaign, which has just come to a close.

Some 170,000 philanthropists have contributed to the campaign since it began in 2004. The final total, which includes gifts to the University, colleges and the Rhodes Trust, is the largest in the history of fundraising in European higher education.

Although the Oxford Thinking campaign has concluded, further philanthropy is vital to the University’s future ambitions. Oxford will now focus its fundraising on supporting strategic priorities, including improved access for talented students from all backgrounds; more graduate scholarships; endowing academic posts; and new teaching and research facilities. A more detailed breakdown of the priorities can be found in the University’s latest Strategic Plan.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: 'We are deeply grateful to our many alumni and friends who have made this campaign possible. Thanks to their extraordinary generosity we have raised over £3 billion to invest in research, teaching, and improving the world around us while never compromising our commitment to academic excellence. It is thanks to their support that we have been able to maintain our position of global pre-eminence. As we chart our future we will continue to rely on private philanthropy to provide the margin of excellence in all we do.'

Oxford Thinking philanthropy has boosted the University’s outreach activity to prospective students from all backgrounds, and support for current students. Examples include:

  • The UNIQ Summer School was established by a gift from the Helsington Foundation and expanded by 50% last year thanks to the Crankstart Foundation. The spring and summer schools have benefited over 8,600 young people to date from state schools, academies, colleges and sixth forms across the UK.
  • 750 postgraduate students have been awarded scholarships under the Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund alone.
  • The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities has seen more than 100 fully-funded humanities graduate scholars complete the programme since 2012, after a gift from Mica Ertegun.

The campaign has raised money for buildings, infrastructure and equipment around the University, including:

  • The Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities was announced in June following a gift from Stephen A. Schwarzman. It will give Oxford’s humanities a new home with state-of-the-art academic, exhibition and performance spaces.
  • The Blavatnik School of Government was founded in 2010 after a gift from Sir Leonard Blavatnik. The School was created to attract the most talented people into public service, offering them a global education, and ensuring that they are part of a network of policy leaders across the world. 
  • The Andrew Wiles Building opened in 2013 following gifts from Landon and Lavinia Clay, and the Wolfson Foundation, amongst others. The building brings together members of departments who were previously spread across three buildings into one Mathematical Institute.
  • The Beecroft Building for experimental and theoretical physics opened last year following gifts from Adrian Beecroft, the Wolfson Foundation and others.

The campaign has made possible significant new research activities and programmes, as well as academic posts at the University, including:

  • More than 175 posts have been supported by philanthropy.
  • The Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, which was supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation, opened in 2017. The Centre’s researchers analyse biomedical data to speed up our understanding of diseases and the developments of new treatments for conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s and a number of infectious diseases.
  • The Oxford Martin School was founded in 2005 through a donation from Dr James Martin to find solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges.

Oxford’s colleges have also been very successful in raising funds for a range of purposes, including such major new initiatives as:

  • The H B Allen Centre at Keble College, which includes rooms for postgraduates, a lecture theatre and a research centre, opened this month. More than half of the Centre was funded philanthropically, including a significant gift from the H B Allen Charitable Trust.
  • The Investcorp Building at St Antony’s College, an extension to the Middle Eastern Centre which was fully funded by philanthropy, opened in 2015. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, it provides a new lecture theatre, library and archive facilities.
  • Balliol College converted St Cross Church into a Historic Collections Centre, thanks to gifts from the Shirley Foundation and 150 other benefactors.

Over £270 million has been raised for the University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums, including gifts from the Garfield Weston Foundation and Julian Blackwell towards the Weston Library. Almost 3.5 million visitors have come to the Weston Library since it opened to the public in 2015. Philanthropy has helped to attract almost 25 million visitors to the University’s museums as a whole since 2004. The Ashmolean Museum was redeveloped with major support from gifts from the Heritage Lottery Fund (now called the National Heritage Lottery Fund) and the Linbury Trust. When it reopened in 2009, the Museum’s display space increased by 100% within the same footprint.

The fundraising campaign has been a global effort with support from the University’s overseas offices in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. It met its initial target of raising £1.25 billion in early 2012 and its second billion in May 2015.

More information on the campaign and what it has made possible can be found here. The news was announced by the Vice-Chancellor during this year's Oration.