Sheffield University has defended its controversial decision to accept money from the Freemasons to set up a chair and research centre for masonic studies. Last month The THES revealed that the Freemasons expected that the centre would "promote the interest of freemasonry". The university said it was prepared to "foster a positive agenda" and help dispel negative images. The university has now confirmed that the Freemasons have offered Pounds 250,000 to fund a chair. The Freemasons have guaranteed university staff full access to records held by the Grand Lodges of England and Scotland and will have no involvement in the appointment to the chair, the university said. The British library has supported the plan.