Record pledges and donations of Pounds 12.5 million were secured by Worcester College, Oxford, even before the public launch of a Pounds 25 million fundraising campaign last month.
Nina Anstee, Worcester's development director, says the college's success is despite advice given to it two years ago by a private fundraising consultant who said it was capable of raising only Pounds 5 million over five years.
Ms Anstee, a fellow of the college, says she believes the achievement offers valuable lessons for other cash-strapped colleges and higher education institutions. "Fundraising needs to be seen as a strategic issue with commitment from the top. It should not be seen as a sticking plaster solution."
It is also vital, she says, that alumni believe the college's efforts are part of a detailed long-term blueprint: "You must show them it is not a cynical attempt to butter them up which will end as soon as you get their cash. UK universities are not good at this."
Ms Anstee says alumni in the United States, who make up 7 per cent of Worcester alumni, have so far contributed 20 per cent of the sums pledged which range from Pounds 5,000 to several million.
"I have no doubt that the Pounds 25 million target can be reached and even exceeded," she says.
Worcester is one of the least endowed Oxford colleges, making it heavily exposed to the loss of income from the college fee.