New financial figures released in conjunction with the 2011 Cambridge University Annual Report last Friday, 2 March, have valued the combined endowment assets of all Cambridge colleges and the separate Cambridge University Endowment Fund at £4 billion.

This makes the University the wealthiest institution of higher education in the UK. In addition, if the endowments of Oxford (£3.3 billion from combined college and university endowments) and Edinburgh (£200 million) are excluded, Cambridge’s wealth stands as larger than double that of all other UK universities combined.

Peter Agar, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, attributed the size of Cambridge’s wealth to the success of its securing donations among alumni who have gone on to make large fortunes upon leaving the University.

This was particularly enhanced by the 10-year funding drive launched with the celebration of the University’s 800thanniversary that was completed last year. The ten-year effort raised a total of £1.17 billion.

“People give because they believe in our cause,” said Mr. Agar, in a statement. “Since 2007 we also have put more effort into keeping alumni relations active and we ask people more- if you don’t ask then they don’t give.”

Viewed within a global context, however, Cambridge’s most recent financial results look less impressive. Major US private universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Yale, all have endowments that are more than twice the size of Cambridge, according to the most recent figures released by their respective endowment management offices.

While a comparison with private institutions may seem unfair, given that those institutions rely more on donations than public grants for their development, even the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, a public US university, had a larger endowment, at more than $7.8 billion (£4.9 billion), as of September of last year.