Oxford steadfast on Murdoch links

University attests to 'full scrutiny' of endowment from News International. John Morgan reports

July 14, 2011



Credit: Getty
Famed alumnus: Media owner Murdoch has been 'generous' to his alma mater


The University of Oxford has said the scandal engulfing News International will not prompt a rethink of its relationship with the company, which funds five academic posts including a Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication.

The names of Mr Murdoch - who studied at Worcester College, Oxford - and his company are attached to several university posts and schemes, following a benefaction of undisclosed value described on the university's website as "generous".

An Oxford spokesman said: "In 1990 Oxford received an endowment from News International with three strands: one that funds the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication; one that provides for a Times Lectureship endowment that funds three lecturers; and the News International Fund that provides various small grants, an annual News International visiting professor of media and a work experience scheme for current students who are interested in journalism."

Times Higher Education, which has not been owned by News International since 2005, asked whether the university would rethink its relationship with the company in light of recent developments, which include evidence and allegations of illegal activities at News International papers.

Oxford's spokesman said: "Our full processes of scrutiny were carried out at the time of the endowment."

Jean Aitchison, emeritus Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication, said: "At Oxford, the chair is simply regarded as a generous gift from an ex-student.

"Whatever happens subsequently at News International has nothing whatever to do with me or with the chair's current holder.

"I'm simply grateful for (Mr Murdoch's) generosity to Worcester and Oxford University, and whatever is happening at News International is of course of interest to me, but only as a newspaper reader."

Professor Aitchison said Mr Murdoch's donations to his former college began with a gift for a library extension. "When he wanted to give more to Worcester, it was suggested that he should endow a university professorial chair, with the professor having an office at Worcester."

Valentine Cunningham, professor of English language and literature at Oxford, said there was "only residual unhappiness" among academics over News International links, and "it is thought that we have turned bad money into good".

But he added that "unhappiness...does manifest itself though. Corpus Christi College recently backed out of association with a new post in film studies when the source of the funding/benefaction was learned."

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

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

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips