Campus close-up: Imperial College London

£20.1 million donation creates Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis to answer big questions about the financial crisis

October 30, 2014

Source: A.Grimm/Reuters

Bear facts: much more needs to be known about the crisis that cost about 70 per cent of global GDP in 2007, say scholars

What do you do if you are in a position to donate £20 million to your alma mater’s business school and want to break some records? Add an extra £100,000 so you can try to make it the largest sum ever donated to a UK business school, of course.

This is exactly what Alan Howard, one of the founders of hedge fund Brevan Howard, did in 2013 when he gave Imperial College Business School £20.1 million. The amount narrowly pipped what is thought to have been the largest philanthropic gift to a UK business school – when Syrian-born businessman Wafic Saïd gave the University of Oxford £20 million in 1996.

These donations pale in comparison with the largesse commanded by US business schools, where contributions can reach the hundreds of millions, but they reflect a growing trend in the UK.

Last year, Anand Anandalingam, the new dean of Imperial’s business school, arrived from the US bringing with him significant expertise in raising money from donors. Professor Anandalingam told Times Higher Education that this experience is part of the reason Imperial hired him. “In the US deans spend at least a third of their time doing fundraising; it is part of the culture,” he said.

It’s a tradition from across the pond that he and the college’s new US-born president, Alice Gast, are hoping to foster at the university.

“The fact of the matter is that the money that government spends on higher education, especially at top-notch universities, is a small fraction of our budget so we have to find ways of funding the mission of the university,” he explained.

In the meantime, Mr Howard’s £20.1 million donation has been used to establish the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis, which Chancellor George Osborne opened in September. The centre will research financial stability and regulation, financial-system structure and the financing of non-profit areas such as healthcare and preserving the environment.

It seeks to answer big questions about the global financial crash and why it happened so that future crises can be prevented. With this addition to the business school, Professor Anandalingam hopes to create one of the best finance departments in Europe. A key objective was to find “top-notch” academics to run it.

The two people they found are among the world’s best finance scholars, he said. The director of research is Douglas Gale, previously professor of economics at New York University, and its executive director is Franklin Allen.

Professor Allen, previously at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said that much more needed to be known about the global financial crisis, which had caught everyone, including most academics, off guard. “One estimate that I heard recently was that the cost of the crisis has been about 70 per cent of global GDP in 2007, which is enormous,” he said.

Professor Allen was attracted to the position because of the “unique opportunity” it offered. It also gave him the chance to return to England, where he grew up. He moved to the US in pursuit of academic opportunities in the 1970s after completing a PhD at Oxford because jobs were thin on the ground in the UK. He sees himself as one of the pioneers of a new trend in people moving back to UK higher education from the US.

The resources available for research and the potential impact of the centre factored into his decision to make the move, as did its location in London at the heart of the financial services industry.

“It is important to spread academic research around the world and not just to focus on the US,” he said.

The Howard donation will be spent over 10 years. Part of the centre’s remit will be to engage with policymakers and the financial services industry to disseminate its findings, and it will hold lectures and seminars to do this. Over time more researchers will be recruited at the postdoctoral and PhD level and the centre will also draw on the expertise of academics working elsewhere at Imperial and at other institutions.

Professor Allen added that the centre will add a “crucial” aspect to the education of business school students.

“One of the skills that the students we train going forward need, is to be able to think through the likelihood of a crisis and how they should run their firms if a crisis does occur,” he said.

In numbers

10 - The number of years over which the Howard donation will be spent

holly.else@tesglobal.com

Campus news

University of Cumbria
A student captured remarkable video footage of a Canadian grizzly bear trying to eat his camera. John Kitchin, a visual ecologist and PhD student at the University of Cumbria’s Centre for Wildlife Conservation, had set up a camera on a bridge in a remote part of British Columbia while he conducted an interview with a biologist nearby. “The point of view is just incredible: her roving eye, the dexterity of her nose, her family peering to see what she has…and her claws, legs and fur as she walks along,” he said.

University of Manchester
The business school at the University of Manchester has received a £15 million donation from textiles magnate Lord Alliance of Manchester and his family foundation. The money will be used to help fund the 50-year-old school’s new premises and to fund its research. The centre will be renamed the Alliance Manchester Business School.

University of South Wales
Union members at the University of South Wales are set to strike in a row over job cuts. The University and College Union said its members would walk out on 13 November in protest at compulsory redundancies resulting from the planned closure of the institution’s Centre for Community Learning. The centre offers courses designed to help people without formal qualifications get into higher education.

London College of Fashion
A higher education institution has raised about £85,000 from its annual fundraising event, enough to create 50 new scholarships and bursaries. Harold Tillman is chair of the committee of Fashion Matters, the fundraising campaign for the London College of Fashion, part of the University of the Arts London. At a gala dinner this month, Mr Tillman asked guests to “dig deep…and even deeper” to help the college go beyond the 29 scholarships created last year.

University of Edinburgh
A new liaison office in New York will help build closer ties with businesses, alumni and prospective students, the University of Edinburgh has said. To mark the milestone, two master’s scholarships are being offered to North American students. The scholarships are named after John Witherspoon, who was president of what is now Princeton University and was one of two Edinburgh graduates to sign the US Declaration of Independence.

Lancaster University
A doctoral programme in educational research has marked its 20th anniversary. The Lancaster University PhD programme, aimed at academics, academic managers, educational developers and others in higher and further education, celebrated with a one-day conference attended by 70 students, past and present. Malcolm Tight, director of the programme, said it was notable for providing PhD candidates with support from “an international-leading group of researchers, which gives students structured access to the culture of contemporary research”.

University of Leicester
Archaeologists have made the “once in a career discovery” of the remains of an Iron-Age chariot. Four students from the University of Leicester found bronze fittings from the 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot during excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray. Jeremy Taylor, lecturer in landscape archaeology, said: “I have been excavating for 25 years and I have never found one of these pieces – let alone a whole set.”

University of East Anglia
The Writers’ Centre Norwich, a local literature development agency, has teamed up with the University of East Anglia to launch a creative writing programme. The International Writing Programme, available online or face to face, gives students the opportunity to access a university-level course, written and taught by expert tutors. “It’s an exciting opportunity for writers, and one we’re sure will soon be benefiting readers too,” said Chris Gribble, chief executive of WCN.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest