Oxford Hires Alternatives Expert

May 23 2007 | 11:35am ET

In a concession to the realities of contemporary higher education costs, Britain’s oldest university has hired an alternative investments expert to help run its endowment. The University of Oxford has named Sandra Robertson its first chief investment officer.

Robertston, who as co-head of portfolio management at the U.K.’s Wellcome Trust focused on hedge funds and private equity investments, will set up and operate an office to manage the university’s £900 million (US$1.8 billion) endowment.

Oxford said it hoped that the new office will increase the amount of income earned from its investments.

Institutions of higher education—both public and private—in the United States have for decades relied on their endowments for much of their funding. That advantage, coupled with decreasing government funding, has hurt the competitiveness of British universities compared to their American counterparts. Oxford rival the University of Cambridge also hired an alternatives specialist when it named its first CIO in November, picking Man Group’s Nick Cavella.

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