Students in a room in Merton Street, 2019 - Photo: © John Cairns -

Supporting Merton: Why we need your support

Financial overview

2016-17 Overview of College Finances

Total income was £13.4 million for the year 2016-17. Income from all sources fell by £0.1 million on the previous year as resources received from legacies and donations declined together with income from the College's trading activities. Total expenditure at Merton in 2016-17 was £13.8 million, an increase of £0.8 million on the previous year. At the end of the financial year 2016-17, the College reported a surplus of £0.6 million on its unrestricted funds and a small overall deficit of £0.4 million when restricted and endowment funds were included. The generosity of donors remained an important element in achieving the overall result.

Merton received £2.0 million in donations from alumni and friends of the College as well as from trusts and foundations in the 2016-17 financial year. Of this total, £1.2 million was donated towards endowments. Our donors continued to support the College on a number of fronts, particularly Undergraduate Student Support, Graduate Scholarships, and a number of Tutorial Fellowships.

Merton continued to benefit from unrestricted donations totalling nearly £0.3 million last year, as gifts via the Annual Fund and telephone campaigns made important contributions once more.

The College’s endowment grew by £14.8 million in the year 2016-17. Merton continued to enjoy good investment returns over the year with a return of 8.5% for 2016-17. Returns to the College’s equity portfolio were in line with markets over the period, and the College’s modest commitment to private equity provided an above-market return for the year. The College’s investments in property continued to produce good income and rental growth, with capital values marginally ahead in the year.

Charles Alexander, Finance Bursar

Current Fundraising Priorities

Ongoing support from Mertonians and friends of the College is essential to several aspects of College life, such as the Tutorial System, Student Support, and the historic College Environment. Alongside this, there are specific projects which the College is raising funds for in order to enhance its provision of world-class tuition and research, and protect its reputation as a global centre of excellence.

The central focus of Merton's fundraising activity over the next few years will be:

Enhancing the Graduate Experience at Merton

Merton has a long and distinguished reputation as a global centre of academic excellence, with an active and hardworking student community. However, when it comes to supporting its graduate students financially, Merton struggles to compete with the generous scholarships offered by the most successful US Ivy League institutions. Compared to undergraduate provision, there is significantly less support available for students embarking on graduate studies. In addition, UK students in the current fee regime, faced with substantial debt to be repaid, may, in spite of new one year graduate loans offered from September 2016, be forced to recalibrate their ambitions and abandon graduate study altogether.

We risk closing off whole careers - including globally significant academic research careers and those that require higher degrees - to those who cannot finance themselves, unless we take the need for graduate funding seriously. 

In the next phase of the College's development, we are focussing our energy and fundraising ambition on providing graduate scholarships to rival those offered at competing institutions.

Graduate Scholarships

Postgraduate study is quickly becoming an essential step for those seeking graduate employment. In the world of academia, graduates students are carrying out innovative research projects with far reaching implications, while entry-level jobs in the professional sector increasingly require a masters degree or specialist experience. There is insufficient funding from external sources to provide for the number of students wishing to continue their education past an undergraduate level, meaning that a masters or doctoral degree is too often closed to those without independent financial means. 

Our aim over the coming years is to increase the number of graduate scholarships that Merton offers. The College is made up of roughly equal numbers of undergraduate and graduate students, but Merton struggles to compete with the provision of scholarships offered at the US Ivy League Institutions. A gift to Graduate Scholarships will not only benefit talented students who might otherwise struggle to fund themselves, but will also help us maintain the College's postion as a centre of academic excellence on the world stage.

Donate to Graduate Scholarships

Contact us

For more information on our fundraising priorities, please contact:

  • Duncan Barker - Development Director - Telephone: + 44 (0) 1865 276307
Undergraduate Student Support: The Merton-Oxford Bursary Scheme

Approximately one quarter of Merton's undergraduates come from a lower-income household and receive a Merton-Oxford bursary. This bursary is automatically awarded on a sliding scale to any student with a household income of £42,875 or less, with those most in need receiving £3,700 per annum. These bursaries contribute to the cost of accommodation, food, study materials, and other essential living costs.

All money donated to this Fund will help provide much-needed Undergraduate bursaries and will leverage the next £25m tranche of Moritz-Heyman money (a significant pledge of £75 million, from Christ Church alumnus Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman, towards the funding of bursaries for the most financially disadvantaged undergraduate students).

Support the bursary scheme with a gift to the Undergraduate Student Support Fund

Contact us

For further information and to discuss your contribution in detail, please contact:

  • Duncan Barker - Development Director - Telephone: + 44 (0) 1865 276307
The Reach Scholarship

The Reach Scholarship was created by the Oxford University Student Union in 1990 to ensure that talented students from low-income countries have equal access to the opportunity to study at Oxford. The Reach Scholar receives assistance with their tutition fees and living costs, and the Scholarship is funded in a collaborative way by the University, the College, and the JCR. The Merton JCR led the discussions for the provision of a Reach Scholarship at Merton, with fundraising beginning in 2013. The first Reach Scholar arrived from Serbia to begin his studies at Merton in Michalemas 2015, and is settling in extremely well:

"When I heard that I had been selected as Reach Oxford Scholar, it felt like my dreams had come true. It is enabling me to study the subject that I love at one of the best universities in the world at the highest possible level."
Uros Ristivojevic, Merton's first Reach Scholar

To date, the JCR has raised their £15,000 target through voluntary contributions by Undergraduate students. The College is contributing 40% of the scholar's Tutition Fees and 50% of their living costs, and needs to raise a total of £56,300. We hope that you will join in with the wonderful efforts of the JCR and support this life-changing Scholarship. 

  • Still to raise: £12,600

Donate to the Reach Scholarship

Contact us

For further information and to discuss your contribution in detail, please contact:

  • Duncan Barker - Development Director - Telephone: + 44 (0) 1865 276307
Contact us

For further information about our current projects and to discuss your contribution in detail, please contact:

  • Duncan Barker - Development Director - Telephone: + 44 (0) 1865 276307
Your Gifts at Work

Why your contribution really matters

Here are some examples to illustrate how your gift to the Annual Fund could benefit students at Merton:

  • £10 per month for a year would help offset the average cost of an undergraduate hardship award
  • £20: 40 donors each giving £20 a month for four years would fund the College contribution to the cost of a Fellowship for one year 
  • £65 per year would pay for a student book grant or buy library books 
  • £150 would subsidise a student play or buy new sports equipment
  • £500 to £750 would pay for a typical student travel grant
  • £1,000 from 30 donors would give start-up funds to a research project     
  • £5,000 from 3 donors would help an undergraduate to stay as a graduate
  • £25,000 would enable a donor, or group of donors, to name a room in Rose Lane V
  • All donations regardless of size or frequency are very welcome.

Did you know...

  • as a basic-rate UK taxpayer, your net gift of £100 enables the College to reclaim an extra £25.00?
  • as a higher-rate UK tax payer, you can reclaim additional tax from the Inland Revenue – your gift of £250 with Gift Aid is worth £312.50 to the College and you can reclaim tax of £62.50, so that your gift of £250 costs you £187.50

If you are not a UK tax payer, please visit our Making a Gift page for help with donating from other countries.

How does Merton manage your gift?

As a valued donor, you have control over where your gift to Merton College is allocated, and the purpose for which it is used. Typically, most major gifts (those of £25,000 or above) received by the College are restricted for a specific programme or project. A gift is restricted when the donor indicates on a cheque, donation form, or other correspondence, a specific purpose for the gift.

Restricted gifts are deposited into one of over 100 College accounts, and the designation of a gift is confirmed on the donor receipt. If the gift is made on condition that it should be invested for recurrent use, rather than spent, it is an endowment, otherwise it is a restricted fund. If a gift is donated to an endowment on the basis that it is to be held in perpetuity, or if only the income (or total return) and not the capital may be spent, then it is permanent, otherwise it is expendable.

We aim to acknowledge all donations within three working days of receipt. Our practices and procedures are reviewed by the College’s Benefactions Committee, comprised of Mertonians and College Officers, who regularly review our processes, to ensure that your gift is properly acknowledged and allocated and that our process is transparent and provides good service to donors who make a gift to Merton.