Clear water between Oxford and Cambridge in money stakes
LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Not much separates Britain's two oldest universities, Oxford and Cambridge, in their academic standing or the tally of victories in their annual boat race, but when it comes to finances, Cambridge is ahead by several lengths. A Reuters ranking of UK university endowment funds showed that Cambridge, whose ivy-covered towers date back to the 13th century, cemented its status as the richest university in Britain in 2012, topping the list when it came to growth in its fund, which takes into account inflows of donations plus returns on investment minus expenditure. Oxford, which traces its history to the 11th century and boasts Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and former U.S. President Bill Clinton among its alumni, spent more than it took in, though its investments performed better. The latest figures sourced from 14 UK universities with funds worth more than 60 million pounds ($93 million) showed the 1.65 billion pound Cambridge University Endowment Fund grew by 6.5 percent in the academic year ended in July 2012. Imperial College London and King's College London came next in the growth stakes, managing 6.4 percent and 6.1 percent due to a mix of new investments and asset performance. Oxford came 10th in the list, with its fund shrinking 0.2 percent to 854 million pounds. However, Oxford's latest figures show the investments in its two centralised endowment funds returned 9.4 percent and 6.5 percent in 2012, compared with a 1.2 percent return for Cambridge in the year to July 2012. "The economic uncertainties of recent years and slowdown in parts of the world economy have inevitably affected the fund," said a Cambridge University spokesman, adding that the 2012/2013 investment performance was "very satisfactory". Oxford University declined to comment. Comprised largely of donations, endowment funds are used by universities and other institutions to finance a portion of their operations by investing capital and spending the earnings. The endowment funds of UK universities are dwarfed by their U.S. counterparts, where the culture of fund-raising among alumni is much stronger. The vast majority of UK universities have always received government financing. Valued at around $30.7 billion, Harvard has the biggest U.S. fund, with Yale in second place at around $19.3 billion, according to their most recent financial reports. When the finances of their individual colleges are included, Cambridge and Oxford's total endowments of 4.9 billion pounds and 3.7 billion pounds would place them among the top 15 largest university endowments in the United States. No other UK institution would make the top 120. As public funding in the UK has shrunk, universities have looked to boost their finances by increased marketing to domestic and higher paying overseas students and have even started issuing bonds to raise funds. A recent report by Universities UK, which represents all higher education institutions, said philanthropic giving has increased in importance as a source of income. In 2006-07, 131 UK institutions reported receiving 513 million pounds from 132,000 donors, but five years later this had risen to 152 institutions receiving 693 million from more than 204,000 donors. Endowment funds are typically run by professional fund managers, but Cambridge and Oxford have subsidiaries that provide in-house investment management services.
University Endowment fund 2012 Endowment fund size year-on-year change 2012 (thousand pounds)
Cambridge** 6.5 1,651 King's College 4.9 130.8
Imperial 4.6 79.1
London School 1.8 83.2
Glasgow 1.1 129.5 Durham 0.9 61.8 Liverpool 0.9 137.9 Edinburgh 0.8 238.3 Birmingham 0.6 83.5 Oxford** -0.2 854.5 University -0.4 72.4
Royal Holloway -1.5 69.7 Manchester -3.2 153.7 Reading -3.8 78.8 * Percentage change is for academic year ended July 31, 2012. **Centralised endowment fund, excludes colleges