It goes without saying that we should welcome such generosity from one of the richest men in the country, and particularly that he recognises the investment value of higher education. But I share Mark’s disappointment at how this is going to be used. I have argued before (here and here) that bursaries and fee waivers for students who have made it to Oxbridge are of questionable value. They are just prizes for making it rather than genuine incentives or support for making it there in the first place.
By spending the money this way, only the Government gains! Oxford will not gain anything because the money will only be used to replace income they would have had received anyway from student fees, the students will have smaller debts, but given that an Oxford education is one the very best investments you could ever make, it’s not really going to change their lives.
I would have thought that Mr Moritz would have seen greater return if he had dedicated the money to research or had worked with Oxford to invest in pathway initiatives that would directly fund and support prospective students from poorer schools or with some other Russell Group Universities to fund students who are being crowded out by the AAB market, perhaps funding a few hundred places at Russell Group universities for Access to HE students, who are in danger of losing out in a big way because of the AAB funding model.