The University of Oxford is to receive £75 million from venture capitalist Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman. The money comes with a 'matched funding challenge' to the University so should generate £300 million. It is to be used to support UK undergraduates from lower-income backgrounds.
According to the University, this is "the biggest philanthropic gift for undergraduate financial support in European history". It means that Oxford students from the lowest-income families will receive financial support totalling £11,000 per year, eliminating all living costs. They will need £3,500 a year for tuition, but this can be borrowed as a student loan, repayable after graduation in line with future earnings.
Moritz, an alumnus of Christ Church, is Chairman of Sequoia Capital, and has invested in a number of digital companies including PayPal, YouTube and Google. He is a member of The Giving Pledge.
His father escaped from Nazi Germany and benefited from a scholarship at a London school.
Moritz and his wife are already responsible for the largest single gift in recent history to Christ Church, Oxford, when in 2008 they donated $50 million (over £25 million).
Students qualifying for support from the Moritz-Heyman scholarship will also receive financial support during university vacations, and benefit from an internship programme to foster career opportunities.
In return they will be asked to encourage the next generation of Oxford students from under-represented groups, by giving talks at schools or mentoring school pupils.
Moritz said: "Real talent is housed everywhere. Our new scholarship programme means that a gifted student – irrespective of financial circumstances – will always be 100% confident they can study at Oxford".
Staged giving and matched funding
The total gift of £75 million will be made in three tranches of £25 million. Each of these sums will be matched by £25 million of the University's own endowment.
The University and its supportes will then be challenged to match the first £50 million combination of donation and endowment. Only when that has been achieved will the next £25 million donation be made. The process will be repeated a further two times.
The scholarships are available for students starting in October 2012.