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2 February 2011

Voluntary giving to higher education: success and challenges for the next decade

The matched funding scheme for voluntary giving (Note 1) which ran from 2008 to 2011 has come to an end. Over the three years around 580 million of eligible gifts have gone to England's universities and colleges.

These donations have secured over 140 million of matched-funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Other headlines from the scheme include:

  • a total of 135 universities and colleges chose to participate including 9 further education colleges
  • 56 institutions met or exceeded their cap (Note 2) across the three years of the scheme
  • 87 per cent of institutions taking part in the scheme benefited from training and capacity building to improve fundraising skills. The training, provided by CASE Europe, encompassed nearly 1,000 delegates from the universities and colleges.

Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:

'The matched funding scheme has been a huge success by generating a major increase in philanthropic giving to our universities and colleges. It has also created a step-change in the approach to fundraising and the skills needed continue to encourage individuals, corporations and trusts to donate to higher education. This has laid foundations on which universities and colleges now need to build.'

Philanthropy review

HEFCE is now reviewing the progress in philanthropic giving to universities and colleges, since the landmark report 'Increasing Voluntary Giving to Higher Education' (known as 'The Thomas Report') published in 2004 (Note 3).

HEFCE will assess the current situation in terms of philanthropic support for higher education including evaluating the impact of the matched funding scheme. It will identify and report on the progress and learning from the last 10 years and, most importantly, the challenges that need to be addressed if the same level of progress is to be made in the coming 10 years. It will also make recommendations to Government, universities and colleges, and donors.

The review will have four main areas of investigation:

  • improving our understanding of donors to higher education
  • improving our understanding of government-initiated incentives to giving to higher education, including evaluating the impact of the matched funding scheme
  • improving our understanding of the impact of philanthropy on higher education
  • improving our understanding of the changes required by higher education institutions.

Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University and chair of the review group, said:

'In recent years, UK universities have significantly increased the levels of philanthropic support they receive for their teaching, research and innovation. But we cannot afford to be complacent.

'This review will identify the challenges we must address both now and in the future, if we are to continue to increase voluntary giving to higher education.'

Other group members are:

  • Nick Blinco, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, University of Birmingham
  • Rory Brooks, MML Capital Partners LLP
  • Professor Sir Richard Trainor, Principal, King's College London
  • Martin Williams, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The review is scheduled to start in March 2012 with a final report available by the end of July 2012.


  1. Details of the matched funding scheme are available on the HEFCE web-site.
  2. Under the matched funding scheme, all higher education institutions and directly HEFCE-funded further education colleges were invited to select one of three tiers with different funding ratios and caps.
  3. The Thomas Report is available on The National Archives web-site.