Halpin PhD Studentship Programme recipient, Muhammed Islam.

Philanthropy helps Exeter meet global challenges

The University of Exeter is meeting global challenges thanks to growing voluntary donations, according to a new report.

The publication highlights how universities like Exeter are using gifts to fund research to tackle international problems like world poverty, hunger and climate change.

The Universities UK report, entitled Gifts that Grow, showcases the impact of a gift of over £500,000 to Exeter from two of the University’s alumni Leslie and Claire Halpin.

As the publication details, the donation is supporting the School of Biosciences to train the next generation of scientists in using the very latest technologies in molecular biology to combat the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea.

The fungus kills enough rice each year to feed 60 million people in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Leslie and Claire Halpin graduated from Exeter in 1979, Leslie in mathematical statistics and operational research, and Claire in biology.

They said: “We hope that our gift will enable future students to study at Exeter, fostering relationships with the developing world whilst also helping to alleviate hunger.”

Professor Nick Talbot, Head of the School of Biosciences, said: “This generous donation will allow a new generation of scientists from the developing world to be trained in using the very latest techniques in molecular biology.”

Gifts that grow charts UK universities’ progress in developing professionally staffed development and alumni relations offices and increasing financial support from individuals, foundations and companies. While acknowledging the present difficult economic climate, the report also considers government initiatives to encourage benefactors through tax incentives and the government’s matched funding programme. The report details how the University of Exeter is taking advantage of the Government’s matched funding scheme.

Recognising the growing pressure on the public purse, universities have introduced many initiatives to boost donations through telephone campaigning and forging ever closer links with business and industry. In 2008, the government launched a three-year matched funding scheme in England, aimed at encouraging donations of all sizes to universities.

Professor Rick Trainor, President, Universities UK said: “There is a long and honourable tradition of philanthropy to UK universities, and indeed many institutions would not have existed without pivotal donors who recognised the future benefit their funding would bring. In recent years, universities in the UK have made significant further progress in this area. Through universities' hard work and incentives by government, the culture of giving is taking off here as it has done in the USA.

2007/08 was an excellent year for fundraising at the University of Exeter, with more than £3.75 million raised in philanthropic gifts from 1,930 alumni, friends and parents.

Date: 26 May 2009

Read more University News