It is unfortunate that the strategic value of raising university endowments is judged entirely by the amount of money that can be raised quickly. Even worse is the idea that such endowments should be in the hands of the state, as the Tories seem to want.
Alumni fund the most generously endowed US universities. The historically relevant model is the independent church that stays afloat by servicing the needs of its flock throughout their lives, not just before they become adults.
Glossy magazines, winning football teams and even periodic surveys about the future of the university encourage the alumni to act like stakeholders in an ongoing enterprise. It is about time UK universities took advantage of their natural lifelong constituency.
Professor of sociology