A recent study by the Sutton Trust reveals that university endowments in the U.K. badly lag U.S. counterparts, and that the fundraising gap is widening. Harvard’s endowment alone is more than the total of all U.K. universities combined. Only Oxford and Cambridge have endowments over £1 billion, while the U.S. has 42 such institutions.
From 2004 to 2011 the British government ran a matching grant program to encourage voluntary giving to university endowments, with the particular hope of encouraging giving beyond Oxford and Cambridge. During that time, British universities raised £580 million and received £143 million in matching funds, but while the Oxford and Cambridge endowments accounted for 70 percent of all university totals in the U.K. in 2002, by 2012 that had grown to 79 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of U.S. endowments held by its two wealthiest universities, Harvard and Yale, held steady at around 13 percent. Despite the economic downturn, Sutton estimates that the average U.S. university endowment has increased by 24 percent over the last decade.