London, May 29 : Oxford University in its effort to help support poor students has unveiled an unprecedented plan to raise 1.25 billion pounds from donors. The fund-raising effort, being supported by prominent graduates who include David Cameron, the Conservative leader, and Michael Palin, the television presenter, is vital to ensure that Oxford can compete against the American Ivy League colleges.
The announcement represents a landmark in the process of reducing Oxford's reliance on state funding and progressing toward a US-style system of donations from alumni and other benefactors.
Lord Patten of Barnes, the University's Chancellor, said the money would enable Oxford to be "needs blind" in admissions by expanding support for poorer students and "stand on its own feet" financially.
"At the same time that governments have on the whole been pretty tight-fisted about higher education they have also introduced targets and policies that seeks to push universities in the directions that are deemed right by the department [for education] or by the Treasury," he said.
Lord Patten cited the case of Laura Spence, a successful state-educated student from Gateshead who was turned down by Oxford in 2000, provoking Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to accuse the university of elitism.
Oxford hopes to pay for 200 academic posts, building work, new bursaries and better accommodation for its more than 12,000 undergraduates and 7,000 postgraduates.
According to Lord Patten, 575 million pounds - almost half of the official total - had already been raised during a four-year "pre-launch" phase.
In addition to 20,000 individual gifts, most of less than 25,000 ponds, the university unveiled two donations of 25 million pounds each.