Oxford hits fund-raising jackpot with pounds 340m drive: University announces record total from campaign, to the dismay of teachers' unions, as intellectual's 'homecoming' is welcomed

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The Independent Online
OXFORD University yesterday announced the end of the most successful fund-raising campaign by a British university, which has raised pounds 340m in six years.

The Campaign for Oxford started in 1988 with the aim of raising pounds 220m in five years. It was extended for a year when it became clear that it would easily exceed its target. The final total is pounds 341,209,145.

Companies from throughout the world have contributed money for new buildings and 117 academic posts, including 34 professorships.

However, a teachers' leader yesterday expressed dismay that so much money had been raised from business for one university at a time when class sizes were rising, schools were short of books and all universities were under financial pressure.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: 'It is a case of the rich raising money for the rich. If firms are willing to give all this money to education, I would prefer to see it paid in higher taxes by companies and distributed more rationally by the Government.'

The campaign started because the university said government cuts in higher education funding would lead to the loss of 200 academic jobs.

Some academics feared that it might lead to the privatisation of universities, others that it would siphon off resources from education as a whole. Critics suggested the colleges had millions in undeclared investments and did not need the money.

The new posts created at Oxford include the Rupert Murdoch Professorship of Language and Communication, the Carroll Professorship of Irish History and the Glaxo Professorship of Cellular Pathology.

New departments such as management studies and the Environmental Change Unit have been established. The money has enabled the university to build a language centre, the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, a new pharmacology building and a building for the computing laboratory.

Major donations came from Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company, which gave dollars 30m ( pounds 20m) for pharmacology, the Rhodes Trust, which gave pounds 6m for academic posts and the W K Kellogg Foundation, which gave dollars 8m ( pounds 5.3m) for continuing education. Nissan gave pounds 3.2m for Japanese studies and Rupert Murdoch pounds 3m for the English faculty. Improvements have been made to the Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum.

The university says it will continue fund-raising from business to support future projects.

Professor Andrew Goudie, president-elect of the development programme, said he had deep sympathy with the problems of the education sector as a whole. 'But Oxford University itself is not rich. It has to maintain national collections such as those in the Bodleian and Ashmolean. With government funding at its present level we have to struggle to maintain what we have always done; we cannot start to develop new areas.'

Most universities do some fund- raising but a spokesman for the Vice-Chancellors' Committee said Oxford was in a league of its own. Cambridge's appeal for pounds 250m over 10 years which started five years ago stands at pounds 140m.

The London School of Economics last January launched an appeal for pounds 40m by the end of the century. It has raised pounds 4.2m but the main drive will not begin until next year.

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