By Paul Ideboghie
On the rich list of universities, Oxford University in England ranks No.4 in the world with a combined pool of riches worth over £9 billion (N5.2 trillion or $12.42 billion) in 2018. It is not in debt and never in the habit of holding back obligations to employees, suppliers or contractors. It even makes donations to charities. This makes Oxford University richer than some third-world countries like the Niger Republic whose net worth is only $2.2 billion; richer than Mali ($647.8 million), Togo ($5.5 billion) and Sierra Leone ($12.238 billion) to mention but a few.
Oxford is nearly as rich as Benin Republic ($14.374 billion) and Burkina Faso ($14.493). According to an analysis by the Guardian of London, 36 Oxford colleges have ‘consolidated net assets’ of £5.9 billion, while the University holds a further £3.2 billion.
The University has endowment assets of £1.2bn. Individual colleges have their own endowment assets, which amount to £4.9 bn.
The key financial objectives of the University are to provide the long-term resources to strengthen and further its pre-eminent position – nationally and internationally – as a place of outstanding learning, teaching, and research; and to enable it to provide additional support to its three core priorities of students, academic posts, and buildings.
The University of Oxford’s income comes from the following main sources:
the University’s largest single source of UK income (25%) is research funding from bodies such as charities, foundations, research councils, trusts, and industry; Oxford consistently has the highest external research income of any university in the UK
tuition fees (from both undergraduate and postgraduate), and education contracts amount to 16%
8% comes from government grants through Office for Students and Research England
other income relates to activity other than teaching and research: educational publishing, the commercialisation of research philanthropic support and investment income from the University’s endowments (51%).
The Catholic Connection
Oxford University traces its origins back to the thirteenth century. Like the other great medieval universities, it was founded by Catholic clerics who espoused a philosophy that combined Christian teachings with the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient and medieval thinkers, which came to be known as the “philosophy of the Schools”, or “Scholasticism.” However, Oxford evolved with the times, surviving down through the centuries the manifold changes wrought by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment, to grow into one of the contemporary world’s most impressive centres of learning. Today, just as 800 years ago, Oxford’s name is synonymous with knowledge and learning. Its high reputation is well earned, as is evidenced (among other things) by the fact that the school runs the world’s largest — and many would say, most prestigious — academic press, with offices in over 50 countries. One in five people who learn English worldwide do so with Oxford University Press materials. This international appeal explains why almost 40 per cent of the student body comes from outside the U.K. Over 17,200 people applied for 3,200 undergraduate places in 2014. But despite many hundreds of students willing to pay tuition, and centuries of accumulated assets, the school’s highest source of income continues to be research grants and contracts. Oxford’s academic community includes 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and 100 Fellows of the British Academy.
The colleges of Oxford University (apart from Kellogg and St Cross) are independent, self-governing and financially autonomous. In 2017/18, the total annual incoming resources of the 36 colleges amounted to £493m. The three main sources of income are: (i) teaching, research and residential; (ii) donations and legacies and (iii) investment income. The University has endowment assets of £1.2bn. Individual colleges have their own endowment assets, which amount to £4.9 bn.
Other income derives mostly from trading activity such as vacation conferences, publishing services and wait for this – tourism!
The University’s four museums – the Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers Museum, Museum of Natural History and History of Science Museum – as well as the public spaces of the Weston Library and the Bodleian Library are consistent sources of income to the prestigious institutions.
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Founded in 1683, it is Britain’s first public museum and home to half a million years of human history and creativity, from ancient Egyptian mummies to modern art, and much more.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Oxford University Museum of Natural History holds an internationally-significant collection of natural history specimens and archives in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture. It is home to a lively programme of research, teaching and events focused on the sciences of the natural environment.
History of Science Museum
The History of Science Museum in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built public museum building. Here, visitors discover stories of science to spark their curiosity, from Einstein’s blackboard and the first life-saving Penicillin cultures to the world’s finest collection of ingenious astrolabes.
Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum holds one of the world’s finest collections of anthropology and archaeology, with objects from every continent and from throughout human history.
Bate Collection of Musical Instruments
The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments celebrates the history and development of the musical instruments of the Western Classical tradition, from the medieval period to present day.
Bodleian Library & Weston Library
The world-famous Bodleian Library is a must-see cultural destination in the heart of Oxford. It was founded by Sir Thomas Bodley and officially opened in 1602. Since then the Bodleian libraries has now grown to be the largest academic library system in the UK.
Christ Church Picture Gallery
Christ Church Picture Gallery houses an important collection of 300 Old Master paintings and almost 2,000 drawings in a purpose-built Gallery of considerable architectural interest. It is free
for members of Oxford University.
University Parks consists of around 70 acres (30 hectares) of beautiful parkland, bordering on the River Cherwell, including sports areas, a duck pond and a large collection of plants and trees in landscaped surroundings.
Designed by Christopher Wren, the Sheldonian Theatre is the principal meeting and ceremonial venue of the University. It offers excellent panoramic views over Oxford.
University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University’s own church has a long and varied history and offers excellent panoramic views of the city. It also has an excellent coffee shop with a garden, which is open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm.
The Harcourt Arboretum is home to many beautiful trees from all around the World, one of the best bluebell woods in England and a newly restored meadowland. The site comprises 130 acres containing the best collection of trees in Oxfordshire with some of the oldest redwoods in the UK.
The Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Britain and forms the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world. While adult day ticket is from £5.45, it is free to children under 16, registered disabled visitors and their caregivers, University and OUP employees, Oxford and Oxford Brookes students.