Leaked documents have revealed the multi-million pound offshore investments made by Oxford University.
Known as the Paradise Papers, an investigation into more than 13.4million files released by two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens found the university and many other high profile individuals sheltering funds out of the country.
Both Oxford and Cambridge universities are said to have invested in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven popular with many American and British hedge funds.
However, both universities have stressed they are charities, meaning there was ‘normally no tax to pay’.
A total of 29 Oxbridge colleges – nearly half of the total number making up the universities – have secretly invested tens of millions of pounds in offshore funds, including in a joint venture to develop oil exploration and deep-sea drilling.
Uncovered papers have revealed that, in 2006, Oxford invested £2.6million in Guernsey-based private equity firm Coller International. Cambridge invested £1.3m.
One of the firm’s funds, Coller International Partners V – one of the largest of its kind in the world – had invested in energy companies, including £760m in Royal Dutch Shell, an oil and gas company.
The revelation is likely to increase pressure on the two universities to divest from fossil fuels.
Oxford announced it was exiting from coal and tar sands investment in 2015 but has since continued to invest in other fossil fuels.
And last year hundreds of academics from both Oxford and Cambridge signed letters calling on the universities to exit from hydrocarbons.
A spokesperson for Oxford University told the Guardian: “‘As charitable trusts, Oxford University’s endowment is exempt from UK tax. The taxpayer therefore does not lose a penny from our investments.
“The investments generate some £80m a year which is spent on key academic priorities in Oxford.
“These include the majority of our scholarships and bursaries for students, vital research across medicine, the sciences, social sciences and humanities and our globally outstanding teaching.
“That is £80m for UK education and research which the taxpayer does not have to fund.”