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Donations to universities and colleges expected to hit £2bn a year by 2022

Professor Shirley Pearce, who chaired the review of higher education donors, says there is a steady rise in the number of donors

Shirley Pearce
Shirley Pearce

Donations to universities and colleges in the UK are expected to total as much as £2bn a year by 2022 if current giving trends continue, according to a report.

Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education, published yesterday by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, says that new funds raised by universities and colleges increased from £513m in 2007 to £693m in 2011.

The report is based on consultation responses from 450 higher education establishments and 55 interviews with vice-chancellors, development directors and donors. The fundraising consultancy More Partnership produced the report.

It says there has been a steady rise in the number of donors, both large and small, to universities and colleges, which is predicted to increase to 630,000 in 10 years’ time. It was about 200,000 in 2011.

But the report found that skilled fundraising professionals were in short supply in higher education and were "mission-critical".

The review was chaired by Professor Shirley Pearce, former vice-chancellor of Loughborough University. "There has been a step change in philanthropic giving to higher education over recent years," she said.

"Successful institutions can be found right across the sector. They have shown strong leadership and have aligned their philanthropic goals to their academic strategies.

"Increasingly the UK is developing a body of good practice in fundraising and is developing the people it will need for the future."

The report makes a number of recommendations to universities, the government and other agencies. These include that universities should take steps to grow a "culture of philanthropy" in their communities.

It says that the HEFCE should launch and support a public information campaign promoting the value of universities as a "powerful channel" for philanthropic investment.

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the HEFCE, said: "This report highlights the strong and continuing tradition of philanthropic giving to higher education. This is an important source of discretionary income, supporting activities beyond those met from core funding streams.

"The real beneficiaries here are those students whose lives have been changed and those who gain from the application of the knowledge created through the generosity of donors. We will do all we can to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations."

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