Google investor donates £75 million to Oxford scholarship fund

A Jewish philanthropist has pledged a landmark £75 million for a scholarship programme to help underprivileged students to go to Oxford, in what is being described as the biggest such gift in European history.

Venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who studied at Christ Church College and is now based in California, said he hoped the funding would cater "to the dreams and aspirations of individuals determined to excel; while also safeguarding the academic excellence on which Oxford's global reputation stands".

The scholarship programme funded by Mr Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman will be matched by the university and its colleges and is expected to help more than 500 students within three years with their fees and living costs.

Mr Moritz, who was among the founder investors in Google, said he was inspired to help improve access to education by his father's experience. "He was plucked as a teenager from Nazi Germany," he told reporters in London today. "He was able to attend a very good school here in London entirely on a scholarship. He went on to study at Oxford and had a PhD financed entirely from a scholarship.

"Real talent is housed everywhere," said Mr Moritz, who donated the record sum of £25m to Christ Church in 2008.

"This is a fresh approach to student funding in the UK."

"This generous donation will mean that many talented students, from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds will get help and support to study at a world leading university," said Prime Minister David Cameron.

"This remarkable and hugely generous gift and initiative from Michael and Harriet allows us to go an important stage further towards our goal of ensuring that all barriers – real or perceived – are removed from students' choices," added Professor Andrew Hamilton, Oxford's Vice-Chancellor.

Last updated: 4:36pm, July 11 2012