The Government should introduce a match funding scheme to increase private donations to UK universities, according to a report published today by the Council for Advancement and Support for Education (CASE), and sponsored by the Sutton Trust.

 Such a scheme would raise more money to support teaching and research, widen access and provide scholarships for science and other hard-pressed subjects; a topical initiative at a time when a number of high profile departmental closures have occurred.

The report highlights successful initiatives in the USA, where 24 states had created programmes as of 2002, and similar programs in Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore that have increased gifts to universities by matching them with public funds. The paper reports on additional research that investigated a number of US match funding schemes and found that between 2000 and 2003 these schemes raised $363m (£191m), of which $276m (£145m) came from private sources – a return on state funding of over 300%. In Ontario, Canada, universities raised CAN$250m (£109m), 2½ times their target, in just two years, which state contributions increased to CAN$500m (£217m). The fund will be used to provide assistance to 166,000 students over the next ten years.

 Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “This report shows clearly that schemes which match funding to increase both universities’ fundraising capacity and donations from private sources are widespread and have been effective. There is the potential to raise millions of pounds for UK universities if the Government provided matched funding. The money could be directed to help build fundraising capacity, preserve key departments and to widen access for students from non-privileged backgrounds. Importantly, the scheme, if properly structured, would benefit the whole sector by kick starting fundraising at those universities which are just beginning to fundraise and by raising the game of those who have already invested in development offices.”

“I believe there is a growing consensus that match funding is the way forward, and so I am delighted that Gordon Brown’s Pre Budget Report sets out provision for a pilot programme. We are finally recognising that fostering a climate of private giving – such as exists in the US and elsewhere – is crucial if we want to maintain the position of UK universities on the world stage”, added Sir Peter.
Joanna Motion, Vice President for International Operations of CASE, said: “These schemes are not a substitute for public funding but are an effective use of public funds to lever in and increase private support and to build strategic links between universities and their constituencies.” She mentioned, however, that a severe shortage of fundraising executives was a major constraint on increasing philanthropic support for UK universities.

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