The University's fundraising campaign has reached the £2 billion mark in record time
The University's fundraising campaign has reached the £2 billion mark in record time

Fundraising campaign reaches £2 billion - and counting

The University's fundraising campaign has reached the £2 billion mark in record time. The generosity of its donors is funding financial support for students, ambitious programmes of academic research and high-quality new buildings and facilities.

Oxford University’s record-breaking fundraising campaign, Oxford Thinking, has reached the £2 billion milestone.

Generous gifts of all sizes have helped keep Oxford at the forefront of international teaching and research, funding new scholarships, academic posts and programmes, as well as new infrastructure and buildings.

The achievement comes little more than three years after the campaign reached its initial target of £1.25 billion, the fastest time such an amount had been raised by a European university. Following that landmark, the collegiate University set itself a fresh challenge of reaching £3 billion in gifts. Today’s total of £2,012,571,521 has again been reached in European record time.

The Oxford Thinking campaign began in August 2004 in support of the central University and all the Oxford colleges. The first billion in gifts was reached in October 2010. Raising the second billion has been nearly two years faster, as Oxford has further accelerated the pace of its fundraising to more than £200m a year. This is the highest rate in UK higher education, putting the University well on course to meet its £3 billion target.

Oxford alumni have been key supporters of the campaign, with 17.88 per cent of all collegiate alumni making gifts in 2013-14.  However, many other philanthropists and organisations have also contributed major gifts, seeing the University as the best place to tackle the global issues and challenges of the 21st Century. In all, there have been 49,246 gifts to the central University since the campaign began.

Examples of recent gifts include:

• A £75m gift from the venture capitalist Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, the writer Ms Harriet Heyman to create the Moritz-Heyman Scholarship Programme. The donation, the biggest philanthropic gift for undergraduate financial support in European history, has set a ‘fundraising challenge’ to the collegiate University which will generate an unprecedented total of £300 million for UK undergraduates from lower-income backgrounds. First-year students are selected annually to become Moritz-Heyman Scholars, on the basis of household income and socio-economic and educational disadvantage indicators. Next autumn, up to 160 students will become Scholars, each receiving on average, a £3,000 reduction on tuition fees and a bursary of £4,500 per year towards living costs. Already, nearly £50 million has been raised through other generous donors to the Challenge.

• Hong Kong entrepreneur, Sir Ka-shing Li, through his charitable foundations pledged £20 million to help establish the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery. The new centre, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will bring together big data research in many fields of medicine and has the potential to transform the understanding, treatment and management of human diseases. When completed, the centre will house more than 600 scientists attempting to define disease more accurately, identify targets for novel drug therapy, utilise a wide range of health-related datasets to better understand disease and response to therapy, and realise some of the many benefits that will emerge from the genomics revolution.

• A gift of £26 million from Mica Ertegun established The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities in 2012.  This gift will enable the endowment of at least 35 fully-funded graduate Humanities scholars in any one year. Leading humanities students from throughout the world compete for full graduate scholarships in fields as diverse as literature, history, music, archaeology, art history, Asian studies, and Middle Eastern studies.

• More than 1,200 donors contributed a total of £17m towards the physical transformation of Pembroke College. New quadrangles and buildings were linked to the historic main site of the college by an over-street bridge. The new buildings provide student accommodation, seminar and meeting rooms, a multi-purpose auditorium, an art gallery and a café, benefiting the entire college community.

• The Sylva Foundation, a long-standing and committed supporter of the Department of Plant Sciences, is currently supporting a DPhil student through a donation of £31,000 for the Oxford-Sylva Graduate Scholarship. The current scholar is assessing the ecological consequences of ash dieback in the UK and the potential impact on ecosystems and organisms that rely on ash trees. This understanding will help to establish resilience to environmental change and to find ways to mitigate the forecast impacts of dieback.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: ‘Reaching £2 billion in donations is an outstanding achievement for Oxford University. We are extremely grateful to the alumni, friends of the University, charities, companies and many others who have made it possible. Their generosity is benefiting the entire Oxford collegiate community through increased financial support for students, ambitious programmes of academic research and high-quality new buildings and facilities.

‘Oxford will need ever-greater financial freedom in support of our mission to foster academic excellence at the highest level for the greatest common good. I’m confident that the continuing good will and support of our donors and friends will allow us to achieve this, and that the £3 billion target will soon be in sight.’