Universities raised a record £299 million from their alumni last year, £57 million more than the year before.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that funds raised through endowments in 2004-05 grew at a faster pace than ever before. Universities' total income topped £17.8 billion in 2004-05, up from £16.9 billion the year before.
Government grants made up the biggest tranche at almost £7 billion, a 6.8 per cent increase on the year before. Tuition fees, education grants and contracts contributed £4.33 billion, 5.9 per cent more than the previous year.
External research grants and contracts generated £2.88 billion, a 5.8 per cent rise on the year before. Another £3.5 billion was generated from other income streams.
John Connolly, alumni fund officer at Newcastle University, told The Times Higher he was not surprised that the amount raised from alumni had increased at more than twice the rate of the previous year.
He said: "University fundraising drives are catching on and moving clockwise from the US around the world. We in the UK are beginning to realise how important they are. We still have a long way to go, but we are far ahead of universities in Australia for example."