Private donations to United States colleges and universities - from former students, companies and rich philanthropists - have registered their sharpest annual gain in seven years, according to the Council for Aid to Education New York.
Total gifts from private sources to US higher education amounted to $12.35 billion in the academic year 1993/94, an increase of more than 10 per cent over the previous year. The rise has caught the higher education world by surprise.
There were some spectacularly large gifts. Walter Annenberg, the former US ambassador to the United Kingdom, gave $247 million to the endowments at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California. But even without these two donations, the increase in donations would have amounted to 7.9 per cent.
The report says: "Even with the Annenberg gifts removed, 1993/94 still shows a clear break from the very modest increases of the previous three years."
Contributions from companies, philanthropists and other individuals represented 6.2 per cent of total expenditure by universities in 1993/94. A breakdown of gifts shows that: * Alumni provided more than one-quarter (28 per cent) of voluntary support for higher education, giving $3.41 billion, an increase of 14.4 per cent over the previous year * Other individuals gave 23 per cent ($2.8 billion), an increase of 10.7 per cent * Corporations gave 20 per cent ($2.51 billion), a 4.6 per cent rise * Foundations gave 21 per cent ($2.54 billion), an increase of 15.5 per cent * Contributions by religious organisations declined. They gave 9 per cent of the total ($1.09 billion), a drop of 4 per cent.