Trinity’s senior bursar, Rory Landsman, said: “our style is to invest in quality long-term growth assets, property or equity"Anna Menin

Cambridge’s wealthiest college, Trinity, increased its net worth by £158.6 million in the 2016/17 academic year, £2 million more than the combined assets of the poorest four colleges, new figures have shown.

With assets totalling £1.34 billion, Trinity is worth 42 times as much as Clare Hall (£32.7 million), the poorest college in Cambridge, and 34 times as much as St Edmund’s (£39.4 million), 32 times as much as Hughes Hall (£41.6 million), and 31 times as much as Lucy Cavendish (£43 million).

Despite these huge inequalities, every college has increased its assets on the previous year.

Trinity is also worth more than 14 times Robinson College, the poorest college which is open to all ages and both undergraduate and postgraduate applicants.

Explaining his college’s performance despite its focus on UK property, the value of which has stagnated since the EU referendum, Trinity’s senior bursar, Rory Landsman, said: “our style is to invest in quality long-term growth assets, property or equity, which [are] currently in fashion in the investment markets.”

The College owns the Cambridge Science Park, home to 90 companies including AstraZeneca, British American Tobacco, and Huawei. It also owns the O2 Arena, around 14,000 acres of agricultural land, and much of the land on which Felixstowe Port, the UK’s largest container port, is built.

Last year, it made further investments at the 898-acre Dunsfold Park, an airfield near Cranleigh, Surrey home to the BBC’s Top Gear, which it acquired in 2014 and where it is funding the development of a business park and housing development.

The bumper year for its endowment saw Trinity contribute £6.6 million to grants and funds for other Cambridge colleges.

Meanwhile, St John’s, the university’s second richest college, increased its net worth by 7.7% to £780 million. After St John’s, the next richest colleges are King’s, worth £350 million, and Jesus, worth £327 million.


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In terms of assets per student, Trinity remains on top with £1.2 million per student. Peterhouse, which is very wealthy relative to its small size, comes second with assets worth £908,100 per student, followed by King’s, with £848,800. At the other end of the scale, Wolfson has £84,700 worth of assets per student, St Edmund’s has £78,300, and Hughes Hall has £69,300.

In terms of percentage increase on the previous year, Emmanuel topped the table with a 13.7% increase, followed by Trinity (13.4%) and Murray Edwards (12.9%).

Curiously, Murray Edwards was one of only two colleges to lose value in 2016 fiscal year, but it has since recovered with a whopping £11 million increase in the worth of its assets, now standing at £97.4 million. Girton also had a slight loss of value in 2016, but it has since rebounded.

The smallest gains went to St Edmund’s, with a 1.1% increase, followed by Corpus Christi and Downing, with 3.5% each.

The inequalities between the colleges are mitigated through the Colleges Fund, which redistributes annual contributions from richer colleges to poorer ones.


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Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish, Robinson, St Edmund’s, and Wolfson all received a £735,000 grant. Clare Hall, Darwin, and Fitzwilliam benefited from smaller grants. Most other colleges contributed to funding these grants, with Trinity providing £2.3 million and St John’s £816,000.

Compared to other British universities, Cambridge is extremely wealthy. The combined total assets of the university and its colleges was £9.57 billion in 2015, more than any other university in the UK. Oxford ranks second, with total assets of £7.59 billion in 2015. The third and fourth richest in 2015 were the University of Edinburgh, with £1.89 billion worth of assets, and the University of Manchester, with £868 million – less than Trinity.

That said, even Cambridge cannot compete with the richest universities in the United States – Yale’s total assets were worth $27.4 billion (£18.6 billion) in 2015 and Harvard’s were $44.6 billion (£30.3 billion).