Cambridge University Endowment Fund now stands at £1.53bn

Despite the market’s panic over the eurozone debt crisis, the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF) grew 16.1% over the last financial year.

The fund now stands at £1.53 billion, largely thanks to the rise in the year to end-June prior to the reaction to the eurozone crisis.

A spokesman said, "The fund's return...reflected a strong environment for risk assets, albeit more muted in the last two quarters of the fiscal year, and excess returns above benchmarks in the leading asset classes in which the fund is invested".

However, Cambridge’s growth does not compare to its U. S. rivals’ much larger funds.

Yale’s endowment fund is worth $19.4 billion (£12.1 billion), after managing a 21.9% return over the last year, and the world’s richest university, Harvard, has seen a 21.4% return on its investments, arriving at a total endowment of $32 billion (£20 billion).

CUEF was formed in 2007 to manage the central assets of the university, and is chaired by the CEO of global asset management company Schroders, Michael Dobson.

However the CUEF only makes up a third of the total Cambridge endowment of £4.3 billion. The rest are comprised of the college endowments, most of which choose to manage themselves independently, instead of investing with CUEF, because of the recent market upheaval.

Recent years have seen moves to modernise the way the funds are run. The university has been hiring from the private sector to help run the funds, for example King’s alumnus Nick Cavalla, former CIO of world-leading asset manager Man Investments.

Although this has seen the CUEF adopting the “Yale strategy” of investing in real assets with success, colleges are now buying other asset classes such as hedge funds.