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Sequoia’s Michael Moritz gifts £75m to Oxford University

12 Jul 2012

Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz has made the biggest philanthropic gift for undergraduate financial support in European history, providing £75m to support UK students from lower-income backgrounds.

The donation, from alumnus Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman, will provide a “matched funding challenge” to the collegiate University, and will generate a total of £300m.

In May, UK-born Moritz announced he was to take a step back from his duties at the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm due to an “incurable” medical condition.

Under the Moritz-Heyman Scholarship Programme, Oxford students from the lowest-income families will receive financial support totaling £11,000 per year, eliminating all living costs. Those students will have their borrowing pegged to the level prior to the new higher fees regime coming into force this autumn.

Moritz said, “Real talent is housed everywhere. Our new scholarship programme means that a gifted student – irrespective of financial circumstances – will always be 100 per cent confident they can study at Oxford.

“This is a fresh approach to student funding in the UK – fueled by philanthropy; catering to the dreams and aspirations of individuals determined to excel; while also safeguarding the academic excellence on which Oxford’s global reputation stands.”

The total gift will be made in three tranches of £25m. Each £25m will be matched by the equivalent of investment returns from £25m of the University’s own endowment, making £50m in total.

Then there will be a challenge to the collegiate University and its supporters to match that £50m through further philanthropy.

Only when the £25m stimulus has led to a full £100m for student support will the next £25m be given. This process will happen three times over, until Moritz and Heyman have donated £75m in all and Oxford has a total of £300m dedicated to undergraduate support.

In 2008, the pair, donated $50m to Christ Church, where he studied as an undergraduate, the biggest single gift in the college’s recent history.

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