A student preparing for a tutorial in her room - Photo © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk

Why we need your support

Merton would not exist without centuries of transformative philanthropy from alumni and friends. The College was founded in 1264 through the generosity and foresight of Walter de Merton. Since then, donations have continued to be essential to our mission of fostering an exceptional quality of teaching and research for generations of students and academics.

We welcomed our first undergraduates in the 1380s thanks to the scholarships (or Postmasterships) established by John Wyliot. Gifts also enabled us to complete the Chapel tower in 1450 and acquire the precious Bodley Chest in 1614. More recently, the Holywell buildings, the TS Eliot Lecture Theatre and our graduate scholarships (over 60 in number) all owe their existence to the generosity of our benefactors. These are only a few examples of the huge difference philanthropy has made at Merton over the centuries.

Today, we are once again at a point in history when donations are ever more vital. Government funding for universities has declined significantly, and student tuition fees do not come close to paying for the true cost of undergraduate teaching at Merton. Although the College’s asset base is strong within Oxford, we still lag far behind our international competitors and endowment returns cover less than half of our annual expenditure.

Your support, therefore, is key. By giving to Merton, you can help us to ensure that no talented student is deterred from coming here for financial reasons, protect the Tutorial System, foster cutting-edge research, and provide the best possible living, studying and working environment while conserving our historic buildings. With your involvement, we can be confident of sustaining excellence at Merton for the next 750 years and beyond.

Read more about areas for which we are seeking support: