Charitable giving to UK and Irish universities hits record £1.3bn

Record year for university philanthropy in UK and Ireland sees Oxford and Cambridge dominate fundraising

May 13, 2020
a charity jar
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Philanthropic donations to universities in the UK and the Republic of Ireland exceeded more than £1.3 billion in the last academic year, a survey of charitable giving has revealed.

According to the annual report, published by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) on 13 May, charitable fundraising rose by 21 per cent in 2018-19, up from £1.1 billion in the previous year.

Overall, nearly 205,000 donors gave money to a total of 99 higher education institutions covered by the CASE-Ross survey, with 181 benefactors making gifts of more than £500,000.

A high proportion of charitable giving was, once again, directed towards the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which received a mean average of £347.4 million each in 2018-19 – about 53 per cent of all funds pledged in this period.

Both institutions secured donations in excess of £100 million that year, with US billionaire Stephen Schwarzman pledging £150 million towards a new humanities centre at Oxford and British hedge fund billionaire David Harding giving £100 million to Cambridge.

In contrast, older “established” universities received about £33 million each, the survey says.

Sue Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of CASE, said the survey’s results demonstrated “the depth of value that donors and supporters of higher education place in the research, teaching and community service conducted at these universities”.

However, she predicted that fundraising would be disrupted in coming years because of the Covid-19 crisis.

“While philanthropic support may well be impacted, in the short term, by the current crisis, philanthropic support will also be more vital than ever in advancing education,” Ms Cunningham said.

The report showed strong university investment in development and advancement operations for philanthropic giving, which increased by an average of 4 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively, over 2017-18 levels, while average institutional income grew by 15 per cent.

Bruce Bernstein, executive director for global engagement at CASE, said he was “delighted that donors continue to invest in our sector, supporting institutions to carry out life-changing research, providing students with access to scholarship opportunities and supporting local communities”.

“Philanthropic income will become more important over the next 12 months as we move forward in these uncertain times, and strong donor engagement will remain fundamental to that success,” he added.

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Reader's comments (1)

Much of it tainted by tax avoidance, oligopoly, and, in some cases, extraction from the poorest.


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