Oxford and Cambridge worth billions in assets: Report

Two of the world's best known universities, Oxford and Cambridge, own a property portfolio across the UK worth around 3.5 billion pounds, according to a report based on freedom of information requests.

The two universities collectively referred to as Oxbridge, own more land than even the Church of England among the UK's most asset-rich institutions. "The property holdings of Oxbridge colleges are worth a combined 3.5 billion pounds, while the universities collectively hold property investments worth 863 million pounds". 

These figures do not take into account the value of many historic college sites, which are held at depreciated cost, claims a Guardian report, based on an extensive survey of Oxbridge landholdings since 1873, through a combination of FOI requests, archival research and UK Land Registry records.

The two major Cambridge landowners are St John's and Trinity colleges, which have 10,500 hectares worth 1.1 billion pounds and make up more than half of the 17,000 hectares owned by Cambridge colleges.

All Souls, Christ Church and Merton are Oxford's biggest UK landowners, owning 14,000 of the 34,000 hectares held by the university's colleges at a value of about 460 million pounds. In comparison, the Church of England, known as Britain's largest landowner, owns 100,000 acres across 41 dioceses.

Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of Cambridge, said: Many of the assets' valued are fixed in the buildings where we teach, house our students, do the groundbreaking research that has earned us more than 90 Nobel prizes and has brought, and continues to bring, change to the world.

The invested assets of our endowment fund allow the university to pay for research, to provide bursaries for students and to continue to strive for wider access. Our other assets include invaluable treasures such as Samuel Pepys library and Sir Isaac Newton's notebooks conserved and held in trust for everyone. 

An Oxford spokesperson added: The central university's strong balance sheet allows us to fund new initiatives for our students, staff and outstanding teaching and research. The universities property portfolio includes castles, racetracks, rural farmland and woodland as well as entertainment areas around the UK.


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