The University has a variety of investments which support its financial objective. This objective is to provide long term resources to strengthen and further its pre-eminent position – nationally and internationally – as a place of outstanding learning, teaching, and research; and to enable it to provide additional support to its three core priorities of students, academic posts, and buildings.
Since its very beginning, the University has relied on philanthropic support to advance its mission and to sustain academic freedom. Over the centuries, many buildings, institutions, teaching posts, research posts and scholarships have been funded by the generosity of donors. These gifts are often endowment gifts – charitable funds held on trust to be used for the specific benefit of the University (further information is found here: Oxford University Trusts). The University also benefits from investment assets resulting from current philanthropy and innovative fundraising.
The University has endowment assets of £1.3bn. Individual colleges have their own endowments, which amount to £5.06 bn.
Oxford University’s Investment Policy Statement
Further information on the University’s Investment Policy and Sustainability are found in the University’s Investment Policy Statement.
The Investment Committee
The Investment Committee is responsible for supervising the management of the University of Oxford’s investment assets, as delegated to it. Full details of the Investment Committee’s responsibilities and membership can be found in Council Regulations 15 of 2002, Part 23: The Investment Committee.
There are two sub-committees of the Investment Committee: the Valuation Committee and the Ethical Investment Representations Review Subcommittee (EIRRS). EIRRS shall consider representations concerning ethical or socially responsible investment relating to the Investment Policy Statement.
Oxford University Endowment Management
OU Endowment Management (OUem) is a commercial operating subsidiary of the University of Oxford. OUem is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is an Alternative Investment Fund Manager under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). Details on OUem including the team and its investment approach are available at www.ouem.co.uk.
Sustainability of investments
The University is committed to ensuring that its endowment is managed sustainably and with integrity, to benefit both current beneficiaries and future generations. In order to facilitate this, the University has chosen to establish its own investment manager OUem, with a business model that enables investments to be made over its exceptionally long-time horizon.
The importance of managing charitable assets in a sustainable manner is deeply ingrained in OUem’s company culture and investment philosophy. Incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the investment process is a key risk management tool, rather than a separate activity. Further information on OUem’s approach to ESG Risk Management is available.
The Investment Committee has one member appointed by Council to have recent and relevant expertise in investment management, as well as recent and relevant expertise in climate-conscious investment. Further information on the University’s approach to sustainability can be found in the Investment Policy Statement.
Ethical Investment Restrictions
The University has chosen at various instances to place restrictions on sectors in which it will not hold investments on ethical grounds.
- Direct investment in companies which manufacture arms that are illegal under the Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010 or the Landmines Act 1998.
- Direct investment in any fossil fuel exploration and extraction companies, including: coal, oil and gas exploration and extraction; in addition to a ban on thermal coal and oil sands.
- Investment in funds which invest primarily in the above listed categories of company.
The Investment Committee reports to Council annually in a public document on sustainability.
As outlined in the Investment Policy Statement, for its perpetuity capital, the University owns units in the Oxford Endowment Fund, managed by OUem. This is an investment vehicle where the University, some members of the collegiate University, and a small number of select external UK charities, have pooled their perpetuity capital to gain the scale and expertise of a dedicated investment approach. Its approach to sustainability is contained in its Performance, ESG and Stewardship Report.