Financial FAQs

How big is Trinity’s endowment and is it the richest college in Cambridge?

In 2014, Trinity’s endowment assets totalled £1.02bn, and our investments broadly comprised 60% property and 40% global equities. Three-quarters of the College’s income comes from investment.

While Trinity College is generally considered to be the wealthiest in Cambridge, our income is fully committed to operational costs. Trinity has wider responsibilities and obligations beyond the College. Our own academic success is closely connected with the standing of the University and the other colleges, and Cambridge’s own academic position cannot be maintained by fee income alone.

How much does Trinity spend each year and on what?

In 2014, Trinity had a net spendable investment income of £43.1m (including some £31.7m of net investment income in 2014), and we spent that on maintaining teaching and research in the College and the wider University. The direction of studies, supervisions, and provision of pastoral support, are, of course, our most significant costs and far exceed the fee income the College receives from student fees. For our undergraduates, we estimate costs in the order of £12,000 per year, yet fee income for our publicly funded undergraduates is only £4,500 per student. We spend over £4m per year on scholarships and awards to our own students.

Our continuing programme of maintenance and renewal for our magnificent buildings is particularly expensive, and the College has set aside 20% of its endowment income for this purpose every year. Building work this year included long overdue renovations to New Court to improve access and facilities for our students and Fellows.

Does Trinity give money to other colleges?

Yes, Trinity makes sizeable donations to the less endowed colleges to provide student support and teaching. We have a long tradition of supporting the University. We founded the Isaac Newton Trust and the led the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, and we must continue to assist in ensuring the excellence of the University and the colleges. This year, for example, Trinity made a donation of £1.5m to the Sir John Bradfield Memorial at Darwin College to support graduate teaching.

Over the last few years, Trinity College allocated 20% of its budget to provide for student support and teaching across the University. The College’s relatively healthy financial position must therefore be seen in the perspective of the College’s many responsibilities.

Why does Trinity fundraise?

If Trinity is to sustain its work and reputation into the future we can’t spend capital, so if we are to do more of what we do, and to develop new world-class initiatives and programmes, we need to supplement our income.

It is important to place Trinity in the context of international competitors, institutions to whom we are rightly compared academically. Our total endowment, at approximately $1.5bn at current exchange rates, is less than the endowment of a number of liberal arts colleges on the east coast of America such as Amherst College, Williams College and Swarthmore College.

Using a different approach, if we consider Trinity’s endowment per student (so, dividing it by 1,000) it is commensurate with the Ivy League universities. Therefore Trinity, all by itself, demands comparison with these institutions. But Trinity is not an island. To be a great college we need to be part of a great university, so we have to continue to support the University in the years to come. And that puts our endowment in a different perspective.

If Trinity is to remain competitive as a world-class institution, supplementary income including new donations will be required to increase student support, improve College teaching and facilities, and advance new research both in Trinity and the University. This money will have to come from the generosity of our alumni.

The aforementioned US institutions have been remarkably successful in gaining the support of their alumni. Between 2003 and 2013, Amherst received gifts of over $500m and Stanford received $8bn. In the same period Trinity received some £15m.

We need to ensure that we have new funds to keep the College at the forefront of education and research amongst increasingly successful global competitors.

What percentage of Trinity alumni donate to the College?

In the current financial year (July 2014-June 2015) 11% are donors to the College (up from 9% in 2013-2014).