University funding is a contested topic in the run up to the general election, especially given the different approaches taken to fees in Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, while the fees debate focuses on whether – and how much - to charge, another revolution has been quietly taking place in university funding: voluntary donations.
Former students are more likely to support their old universities than ever before. Research we have carried out for Ross-CASE on philanthropic giving has found that the number of alumni donating to their alma mater went up by 14% between 2011/12 and 2013/14. More than 180,000 of us in the UK gave money to where we previously studied, generating around £123 million for the higher education sector.
A small number of universities do get the lion’s share of this, in particular Cambridge and Oxford. But we have found evidence to suggest that other universities are getting in on the act. In 2011/12, 10 universities generated more than £10 million from all donors (alumni and others); the most recent survey found 16 universities achieved this.
Universities have become increasingly likely to invest in fundraising from former students. So if you are one - don’t be surprised if you get a call or a donation request in the post sometime soon…