Oxford University has received the largest ever-philanthropic gift for undergraduate study in European history
Oxford University has received the largest ever-philanthropic gift for undergraduate study in European history, it announced today. Venture capitalist and Oxford alumnus Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman have pledged £75 million to fund students from low-income backgrounds through university. The scholarship programme comes with a matched-funding pledge that is intended to generate a total of £300 million to support low-income students. Spear’s will be interviewing Moritz about his philanthropy later this year.
The first scholarships will be available for the 2012/13 intake and will be given to 100 students with a familial income of less than £16,000.
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These Moritz-Heyman scholars will receive a bursary and fee waiver worth £11,000 annually, and would only take on a £3,500 government grant a year, which is only repayable once the student is earning above £21,000. Internship opportunities will also be available to scholars through the scheme.
Oxford Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton said that the gift allows ‘us to go an important stage further towards our goal of ensuring that all barriers — real or perceived — are removed from students’ choices.’
Moritz says he hoped his gift will serve as a model for other universities and colleges to emulate. The total gift will be made in three tranches of £25 million. Each tranche will be matched by the university to make £50 million, and then the collegiate university will be challenged to match this £50 million through philanthropy. Only after the first £25 has raised enough matched funds to reach £100 will the second tranche be released.
Hamilton says he has ‘every confidence of a great response’ to the matched funding pledge, and that he hopes to raise the initial £100 million with 1-2 years.
Jo Dibb, headmistress of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school, where half of all students are on free school meals, said the scheme had ‘removed one of the barriers for our students.’ Her pupils often found that in the UK ‘one of the biggest determinants for their future is who their parents are and where they were born, and this can help turn that around,’ she said.
Moritz says his own background has motivated his giving: his father was fled Nazi Germany and received scholarships to fund him through school in London, university and eventually at PhD at Oxford. ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the generosity of strangers,’ he said.
Four years ago, Moritz donated over £25 million to his former Oxford College, Christ Church, the largest in the college’s recent history.
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