University colleges of Oxford and Cambridge hold £ 21 billion | Oxbridge and elitism

The former British universities of Oxford and Cambridge have access to a staggering reservoir of wealth totaling nearly £ 21 billion, a Guardian analysis has revealed.

The use of a combination of access to information requests and audited accounts to replenish estates, endowments, investments and other assets – including works of art and antiques – held by nearly 70 colleges and institutions show the full extent of Oxbridge’s remarkable wealth.

Oxbridge’s total of at least £ 21bn is well above that of other UK universities and the combined investments of the 22 other Russell Group members of elite research universities, such as University College London .

The magnitude of Oxford and Cambridge’s wealth, accumulated over hundreds of years, is such that their assets could pay the tuition fees of every domestic and international student at UK universities and colleges for a year – all the while leaving £ 3 billion to sell.

Trinity College, Cambridge is the richest of the individual colleges with published assets worth £ 1.3 billion in its latest accounts. At Oxford, St John’s College leads the way with almost £ 600million in assets.

Beef broth
cam bub

The concentration of accumulated wealth reserves in the hands of just two institutions raises questions about their slow progress in reforming their admissions processes, and casts doubt on Oxbridge’s insistence that his system of expensive tutoring to teach undergraduates is underfunded by student tuition fees.

Oxford released details of its undergraduate admission last week, with the aim of highlighting the progress it has made in recruiting students from diverse backgrounds. But the university admitted that it “still has work to do to attract the most talented students from all walks of life.”

The Guardian revealed in October that 82% of Oxford’s offers in 2015 were aimed at UK students from the top two socio-economic groups.

David Lammy, MP: “Why aren’t Oxbridge colleges spending even a tiny fraction of this foundation year wealth to improve access for under-represented students? “ Photography: Stefan Rousseau / PA

Earlier this year, Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, defended the university’s efforts, pointing out that the university spends £ 17million a year on outreach and financial support.

But these expenses represent just over 2% of the cumulative net income of £ 787million that Oxford and its colleges enjoyed in 2017, and only a fraction of the Central University’s assets of £ 3.2 billion, which amounts to £ 9bn when college funds are included.

David Lammy, the Labor MP who has sharply criticized Oxbridge’s admissions failures, said some of the universities’ vast wealth could be better used to fund sophisticated access and outreach programs.

“Why aren’t Oxbridge colleges devoting even a tiny fraction of this wealth to the founding years to improve access for under-represented students?” Lammy said.

“Why do colleges rely on undergraduates to run outreach and access programs instead of employing experienced professionals to travel to under-represented and disadvantaged areas to find the most talented students,” whatever their origin?

“There can be no more excuses or throwing the ball back. With such wealth at their disposal, I just don’t see how tenable it is for the colleges in Oxbridge to continue to pretend to access it and devote such a small proportion of their wealth to improving the access.

Beef tab
Cam tab

But college bursars surveyed by The Guardian said that while the totals may seem impressive, in many cases colleges are severely limited in how they can use the returns or the assets themselves. In some cases, funds were earmarked for specific purposes, such as funding scholarships or student aid, with conditions set by donors centuries in advance.

Many of the more venerable colleges, such as Christ Church, Oxford, or King’s College, Cambridge, also faced considerable costs for the maintenance of their old buildings and grounds.

Cambridge University declined to comment. An Oxford spokesperson said the university and its colleges had built up reserves to help maintain its high academic standards.

“The university and colleges use their assets to support research, fund teaching and make education in Oxford affordable and accessible to students of all backgrounds,” Oxford said in a statement.

“Many reserves are held for specific reasons and for our long-term sustainability. It is simply not the case that we have significant unused funds immediately available for general expenses.

Firefighters inspect fire damage to Grenfell Tower block
Firefighters inspect fire damage to the Grenfell Tower block. Trinity College, Cambridge’s massive £ 563million investment fund recently included shares in Arconic, maker of the defective coating. Photograph: Hannah Mckay / Reuters

“We are in an uncertain time for the funding of higher education and it is important to maintain and build reserves to ensure the resilience of the university in the face of future challenges.

“The assets that underpin our unlimited reserves include libraries and other university student resources that could not be sold without irreparably damaging our academic mission. “

The financial advantage Oxford and Cambridge enjoy over their domestic rivals is expected to widen further. Over the past two years, the duo have used their high credit ratings and international reputation to issue bonds worth hundreds of millions of pounds on the capital markets.

Last December, Oxford raised £ 750million after issuing a 100-year bond, while Cambridge this month announced plans to raise an additional £ 600million by issuing bonds to take advantage of the rates. low interest. This tranche of debt follows Cambridge’s £ 350million bond issue in 2016, used to finance large-scale real estate developments in North Cambridge.

The numbers also reveal how Oxbridge continued to build on its inherited wealth. The 2002-2003 Oxford Colleges Accounts showed combined assets of over £ 1.6 billion. Some 15 years of investing and fundraising later, 2017 accounts suggest that figure has risen to £ 5.8bn.

Cambridge leads the way with consolidated net assets worth nearly £ 11.8 billion across the university and its colleges, which equates to £ 390,000 per person for each of its 30,000 students and Staff.

Although Cambridge colleges alone have assets worth just under £ 7 billion, Queens’s College remains the only one accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, which currently sets the minimum living wage at United Kingdom at 8.75 pounds an hour. Oxford does better with 12 currently accredited colleges.

While the published numbers are high, the actual extent of Oxbridge’s wealth is likely to be even higher.

Many colleges put no value on their main historical sites, which date back to the 13th century and span the cities of Oxford and Cambridge. And many of the wealthier colleges ignore “heritage assets” such as works of art, libraries, or artefacts, which the value of many college accounts qualifies as “intangible.”

Messiah violin made by Antonius Stradivarius
The Messiah violin made by Antonius Stradivarius, kept at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Photograph: Alamy

The prized possessions of Oxford and Cambridge include the Diaries of Samuel Pepys, a Sumerian clay tablet dating to 2,200 BC. Principia mathematica. The Oxford museum, the Ashmolean, has drawings by Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, and paintings by Picasso, Constable, Titian and Turner, as well as a Stradivarius violin. There are even rumors that the mummified head of Oliver Cromwell is buried under the chapel at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge.

Cambridge Trinity College – which counts Isaac Newton, Vladimir Nabokov and Lord Byron among its alumni – with assets of £ 1.34 billion amassed over nearly 500 years, is richer than any UK university other than Manchester , Edinburgh and Imperial College London.

Trinity’s net assets have grown by almost £ 160million in the space of a year in its most recent accounts – more than Balliol College, Oxford has accumulated in 750 years. Trinity’s massive £ 563million investment fund recently included shares in the world’s largest arms companies, several Dakota Access pipeline partners and Arconic, the supplier of the famous Grenfell Tower coating.

Not all colleges are aware of immense wealth and there is a huge disparity between the richest and the poorest. The £ 32million assets of Clare Hall College, Cambridge are insignificant compared to those of Trinity and its neighbor, King’s College, which has assets of £ 350million, including the £ 748,000 it received in annual literary royalties, including from the estate of novelist EM Forster.

Cambridge has taken steps to address its own imbalances by managing the College Fund, which obliges richer colleges to provide financial support to poorer colleges. Last year St Edmund’s College supplemented its relatively meager assets of £ 39million with £ 735,000 from the fund, while Trinity College made the largest contributions with £ 2.3million sterling.

Oxford also operates an equalization fund to provide some support from the wealthier colleges to their less affluent peers. But college bursars complain that wealthier colleges are undervaluing or hiding their assets in order to restrict their contributions.

Despite their enormous wealth, Oxbridge Colleges sparked controversy earlier this year after backing revisions to the main university staff pension scheme that would have led UK staff to see their pensions cut after retirement.

Comments are closed.