What is the University’s “endowment”?
The “endowment” is a pot of money that has built up over generations from charitable donations. This money is invested on the stock market, and the returns on these investments are used to run the University.
Overall, Cambridge University has an endowment of about £5bn, of which £2.2bn belongs to the University itself (the rest belongs to the constituent colleges)(ix).
This means Cambridge has the largest university endowment in Europe.
However, there is currently no ethical policy on the investment of this fund.
Such a policy is under discussion at the University’s working group on socially responsible investment, but it is not clear what the outcome of this discussion will be.
You mentioned a “working group” – what is this?
The working group on investment responsibility was set up by the University Council on the 18th May 2015, thanks in part to the hard work of Positive Investment Cambridge (another student-run campaign).
The group is responsible for determining whether any changes should be made to the University’s current Statement of Investment Responsibility.
The challenge now is to bring divestment to the forefront of University discussion. This will ensure that the working group seriously considers full divestment as an option.