Go back

HEFCE looks to tap philanthropy for university funding

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has set up a committee to investigate the potential for increasing voluntary donations to help finance the university system.

Under the chairmanship of Shirley Pearce, vice-chancellor of Loughborough University, the group will look at the role of philanthropy in supporting British universities, the effect of government incentives in encouraging donations and the changes needed to encourage growth in this potentially important funding stream.

HEFCE has established the review following the completion in 2011 of a three-year matched funding scheme that attracted around £580 million of eligible gifts for England’s universities and colleges. This secured a total of more than £140m in matched funding from HEFCE.

Its chief executive, Alan Langlands, said, “The matched funding scheme has been a huge success by generating a major increase in philanthropic giving to our universities and colleges.

“It has also created a step-change in the approach to fundraising and the skills needed continue to encourage individuals, corporations and trusts to donate to higher education. This has laid foundations on which universities and colleges now need to build.”

In 2004 HEFCE published the Thomas committee report, ‘Increasing voluntary giving to higher education’, which highlighted the scope for developing a US-style system of voluntary funding from the private sector and wealthy individuals.

The current review will look to build on the progress made since then by identifying the actions needed by government, universities and donors.

“In recent years, UK universities have significantly increased the levels of philanthropic support they receive for their teaching, research and innovation. But we cannot afford to be complacent. This review will identify the challenges we must address both now and in the future, if we are to continue to increase voluntary giving to higher education,” said Pearce.

Other members of the group are Nick Blinco, director of development and alumni relations at the University of Birmingham; Rory Brooks of the private equity firm MML Capital Partners LLP; Richard Trainor, principal of King’s College London; and Martin Williams of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

They are expected to complete their report by the end of July 2012.