Degree Day, Sheldonian TheatreImage credit: Oxford University Images / Pawel Sytniewski
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“Christ Church relies on its endowment to provide nearly half of its annual income. This dependency will almost certainly increase in future years as other sources of income are likely to grow slowly, if at all, in real terms. As a result, maintaining and increasing the purchasing power of the endowment whilst providing a significant annual cash income is a vital part of preserving Christ Church in perpetuity.
Some years ago, Christ Church realised that it did not have the budget to support an in-house investment capacity and sought to outsource this activity in cost efficient ways to third party managers, which shared our very long term investment horizon. The establishment of OUem provided a suitable vehicle for Christ Church to work in co-operation with the University and other colleges. About two-fifths of the endowment is now invested in the Oxford Endowment Fund.
Christ Church greatly values the ability to diversify into a range of alternative asset classes which the Oxford Endowment Fund offers, particularly into
private equity and non directional investments. Identifying, obtaining access to and monitoring such investments requires infrastructure which is very difficult for Christ Church to acquire or maintain.”
“Founded in 2004 through the vision and generosity of Dr James Martin (1933-2013), the James Martin 21st Century Foundation provides long-term financial support to the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. The majority of the Foundation’s assets are invested in the Oxford Endowment Fund, and the predictable nature of the annual distribution is vital in helping meet its funding commitments to the School.
No other university, anywhere in the world, hosts an interdisciplinary research organisation like the Oxford Martin School. Its community of over 200 researchers, drawn from multiple fields and of the highest academic calibre, work collaboratively with policy makers, practitioners and business leaders to address the most pressing global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
In recent times, the School has helped develop alternatives for tackling climate change beyond the Kyoto Protocol; provided advice to the World Health Organization on understanding and combating dangerous global pandemics; and contributed to new rules and insight for improving global financial stability. In the UK, academics from the School regularly provide expert testimony to parliamentary hearings and advise government on strategic science and technology policy issues.”
James Martin Foundation
“Keble’s endowment is modest by Oxford standards, so we’re grateful for the opportunity to benefit from the economies of scale that OUem offers. Endowments differ from other funds in that the focus is on maximising total return over the long term. Given the strength of OUem’s investment team and its advisory board, we’re happy to leave them to look after our money whilst we concentrate on running the College.
“Keble is determined to build its endowment, the income from which covers roughly 10% of expenditure: 41% of it funds ‘deep’ maintenance of the buildings, 37% funds academic posts, 17% is applied to scholarships and bursaries and 5% supports College parishes.
“We have recently begun using the Oxford Capital Fund as an investment vehicle for gifts towards our major building project – the £50m redevelopment of the Acland site. Our aim is to complete this highly ambitious project in time for our 150th anniversary in 2020.”
“At Somerville our endowment has been growing steadily over recent years, the combined result of the ongoing generosity of our alumni, our fundraising campaigns for the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust and the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, and underlying capital gains on our investment. For some years now we have been putting all our new money with OUem, with the ultimate aim that they will be responsible for managing a significant portion of our endowment fund.
“We benefit greatly from our access to the high-quality people at OUem and we value and appreciate the transparency and honesty of their dealings with us. We value the long term view they are able to take and the emphasis on delivering a reliable income stream with low capital volatility. We use OUem’s investment approach, in particular Private Equity and Non Directional assets to give balance to our overall portfolio.
“Endowment distribution accounts for 20% of our total unrestricted and restricted income so it is very important to us. We have come to trust OUem’s ability to deliver their portion of this income stream.”
The central University’s share of the Oxford Endowment Fund is made up of approximately 700 underlying trusts. This includes the University of Oxford Development Trust (the University’s overarching vehicle for the receipt of donations), but also several hundred bespoke trusts established through University legislation. The funds have accumulated over many years, and have arisen largely from donations from benefactors and, in more recent times, transfers from Oxford University Press.
The funds are restricted, or earmarked, for a variety of academic purposes, including teaching posts, student support programmes, lecture series, prizes, and the University’s libraries and museums. Included below is information from the Ashmolean Museum, which is supported by one of the central University’s bespoke trusts.
“Established in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public museum in the UK. The Ashmolean’s endowment funds are instrumental in supporting the Museum’s four core missions: care and conservation of the great collections; teaching; research; outreach and public engagement.
“Last year the Ashmolean was successful in securing a £1m challenge grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) highly competitive Catalyst Endowment Scheme. This means that from all donations to the Museum’s endowment, up to £1m will be matched pound for pound by the HLF, resulting in an additional £2m for the Ashmolean’s overall endowment. The team is delighted to have raised £560,000 already.
“The Ashmolean strives to be an open door to the excellence of Oxford, sparking in everyone a curiosity for the beauty, diversity, and intellectual richness of our collections. The consistent dividend distribution from the Oxford Endowment Fund assists our planning of programmes to support this ambition. On reaching the Catalyst target, the dividend income from the £2m endowment will support the delivery of the Museum’s public engagement activities, with the aim to make our collections accessible and relevant to the largest possible audience.”
The Ashmolean Museum