We’ll double your gift, university tells philanthropists

New drive for philanthropic largesse amid faltering public funding and nerves about foreign fees

June 4, 2019
Australian dollars

An Australian university is offering to match donations from high-rolling altruists, in a new initiative to boost opportunities for capable students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The University of Queensland has set aside A$15 million (£8.3 million) to double the value of individual contributions of A$50,000 or more, as part of its aim to establish a new scholarship fund worth at least A$30 million by next year.

Vice-chancellor Peter Høj said the money would go towards “bright” students who had earned places at UQ, one of Australia’s top-ranked universities, but lacked the financial means to support their education.

“Well-structured scholarships offer more than financial stability,” Professor Høj said. “They offer networks of support, access to unique mentoring activities and affirmation of [individual] worth and abilities.”

The move is the latest appeal to philanthropists to help plug the gap left by faltering public funding of universities and warnings that they are becoming too financially dependent on overseas students’ fees.

In May the Queensland Audit Office reported that the University of Queensland had last year derived more revenue from international than domestic students, for the first time ever, after foreign fees income rose by 84 per cent in four years.

Philanthropy is becoming an increasingly important complement to Australian universities’ coffers. The universities of Sydney and Melbourne have both launched A$1 billion fundraising campaigns, with Sydney claiming to have already reached the mark, while Queensland has said it is close to meeting the A$500 million target of its “Not If, When” campaign.

Under Queensland’s new initiative, donors will have the option of lending their names to new scholarship schemes targeting indigenous people, students from remote areas, refugees or survivors of disaster or illness.

The university said the aim was to provide a steady stream of revenue, with disbursements from the fund kept low enough to avoid compromising its longevity. Queensland said it wanted to amass at least A$30 million to maximise impact.

john.ross@timeshighereducation.com

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