Frequently Asked Questions

Matriculation Ceremony, Sheldonian Theatre 2013
Image credit: Oxford University Images / David Tolley

Any further questions?

What is an endowment?

What is an endowment?

An endowment is charitable funds held on trust to be retained for the benefit of a charity or foundation.

Who are the beneficiaries of endowment funds at the University?

Endowments may be given for a specific reason or beneficiary or can be general purpose. Many of the endowments across the collegiate University have defined beneficiaries, outlined in the trust deeds eg. a teaching post, programme of scholarships, or upkeep of an antiquities collection or building; where the distribution of The Oxford Funds can often provide the entire annual income. General purpose endowments can be used more freely to benefit education and research across the University.

What is the difference between permanent and expendable endowment?

Permanent endowment is money or property that is meant to be held by a charity forever. These have a variety of beneficiaries across the collegiate University. Expendable endowment is where the money may be spent if it is considered to be in the best interest of the trust. Typically, across the collegiate University, expendable endowment is used for building projects.

Is University working capital / pensions / student fees held in The Oxford Funds?

Only charitable funds held on trust can be invested in The Oxford Funds.


Who can invest in The Oxford Funds?

Only charitable trusts with objectives specifically linked to the collegiate University can invest in The Oxford Funds. The Funds are only open to those classified as a professional investor, under regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority. If you are interested in donating to the collegiate University, you would need to speak to the appropriate development or fundraising office.

Why do investors need to be a professional investor?

Under the terms of OU Endowment Management’s regulation, only those categorised as professional investors by the Financial Conduct Authority can receive detailed information on the Funds.

I would like to give money to the University, can I donate directly through OU Endowment Management?

If you would like to give money to the collegiate University, we suggest that you speak directly to the department, college or club you wish to donate to. OU Endowment Management has a sole focus on investment management, rather than fundraising.

Oversight and governance

What is governance?

Governance outlines how we make decisions and how those decisions are implemented. Governance is a mind set and culture which overlays our investment process. It goes beyond any one issue, to ensure we are appropriate stewards of the assets within The Oxford Funds.

What is the system of oversight for OU Endowment Management?

We have outlined the oversight structure under which OU Endowment Management operates under ESG Risk Management.

Is OU Endowment Management part of the University?

Yes, OU Endowment Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of the University.

What is the Prospectus?

The Prospectus is a formal legal document that contains the facts that an investor needs to make an informed investment decision. This is a confidential document, only available to those categorized as a professional investor by the FCA, under the terms of OU Endowment Management’s regulation.

What is the Financial Conduct Authority?

This is the UK’s financial regulator and OU Endowment Management’s regulatory body.

Can you give me more specific information on the terms of The Oxford Funds?

We are a Financial Conduct Authority regulated investment manager and under the terms of our regulation, before sharing more detailed information on the Funds, we have to ensure that a prospective investor is categorised as a professional investor. Equally, we have to be sure that an investor qualifies to invest in the Funds.

We do, however, publish a Report of The Oxford Funds annually which can be found in The Oxford Funds section of the website which is designed for all interested parties.


What is a ‘unitised vehicle’?

This is a fund structure that allows different investors to pool assets. Our investors can buy ‘units’, which is essentially a share in the Fund.

What is ‘net asset value’ / NAV?

This is the value of the Fund, at any one point in time, net of any fees and charges. OU Endowment Management only ever reports net valuations and returns.

What is a real return?

A real return is a return that is in excess of inflation. Inflation measures the change in value of goods and services in an economy versus the value of money. If inflation is generally positive, the relative value of goods and services versus money is rising, and goods appear more expensive. This is why endowments need to create positive real returns; so that their purchasing power rises over time rather than falls.

What is an investment objective?

This is the specific performance objectives of the money within the fund. These are long term objectives and not year by year measures.

What is an investment policy?

This represents the mix of assets, or asset allocation, that we believe gives the best chance of achieving the long term investment objectives.

Do you publish a breakdown of your underlying investments?

We do not publish the list of our underlying investments as it is commercially sensitive information. We do publish returns, asset allocation, sector breakdown and geographic allocation in the Annual Report.