Higher Education funding: The good, the bad, and the ugly


Donations are in the news for completely different reasons. | Photo: Eoin ORiordan

Think-tank criticises foreign donations

Foreign governments are corrupting British universities through donations, says a recent report from the Centre for Social Cohesion, a right-wing think tank.

Titled ‘A Degree of Influence’, the report says the largest donations are those going to Islamic and Arabic studies. It claims that it has found evidence of censorship of discussion of aspects of Islam in UK institutions. 

The report also claims that some departments are dependent on foreign funding, often coming from “undemocratic” governments, and that donors alter the way universities are run.

$75m secret donation to US universities

Meanwhile, in the United States, an unknown donor has given $75m to universities that rely on government funding. Michigan State University has received the most so far, with $10m. Ten others have been given $5m or more each.

The anonymous donor, who has worked through intermediaries such as banks, has requested that most of the money be given as financial aid to poor students, particularly women and those from minorities.

Warning on rise in student fees

Back here in the UK, Oxford University’s vice-chancellor, Dr John Hood, told MPs that there is a £8,000 gap between what is raised in fees and what is needed to teach each student.

Dr Hood said that fee increases could be used to close the gap, but only if extra financial aid was given to poor students. The university, reacting to a Sunday Telegraph story claiming they wanted to raise fees to £11,000, said that they did not want to plug the gap just through fees.

Related reports: 

The Guardian | Large foreign donations are influencing courses …
Centre for Social Cohesion | ‘A Degree of Influence’
The Guardian | Mystery philanthropist donates $75m to US universities
The New York Times | Anonymous Donor Gives Millions to Colleges
Michigan State University | MSU receives anonymous $10 million gift
Times Higher Education | The week in higher education
The Guardian | Oxford University losing £8,000 per student
The Sunday Telegraph | Oxford to push for increase in tuition fees

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