Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 15:45 UK

Universities' millions in Iceland

Oxford
Oxford has called for co-ordinated action to get the money back

Oxford and Cambridge are among the UK universities who are at risk of losing funds in failed Icelandic banks.

Universities' secretary John Denham said a total of 12 English universities had 77m at stake though none of the institutions was in jeopardy.

Oxford University and its colleges have 30m - or 5% of their overall cash deposits - invested in three of the troubled banks or subsidiaries.

Cambridge faces losses of 11m which is 3% of its total market deposits.

Certainly no university faces a level of exposure that would raise questions about its continuing solvency
John Denham
Universities secretary, England

On Wednesday it emerged that three Welsh universities had 8.1m at risk in the Icelandic bank crisis. It is not clear whether any Scottish universities are affected.

Confidence

Mr Denham said officials from the Treasury and the Higher Education Funding Council for England were working with the English universities to try to get the funds back.

Neither of those organisations have given details of which universities are affected.

Mr Denham said: "It should be noted that Hefce has concluded that no university is at risk as a result of its exposure to Icelandic banks.

"Certainly no university faces a level of exposure that would raise questions about its continuing solvency.

"Students, businesses, charities and others may deal with universities with exactly the same level of confidence as before."

Oxford's director of finance Giles Kerr has written to Hefce urging it to do all in its power to help protect the higher education sector.

"It is important that we get co-ordinated action," he said. He knew that Hefce, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Treasury were well aware of the challenges faced by the sector.

"We expect them to do all they can to protect the position of higher education institutions, which are vital to the country's future prosperity."

Other universities known to have deposits in the stricken banks include the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Open University.

'Paid as normal'

Manchester Metropolitan University said it was hopeful it would get back the 10m it had invested, and that the potential loss was not affecting the day-to-day running of the university or its future plans.

The University of Manchester said it had 5m of its general investments in the banks and that it was working with other universities to get the money back.

The Open University said it had invested 6.5m in UK subsidiaries with the Icelandic banks.

"The funds at risk with these two banks, although significant, represent less than 4% of the university's cash holdings and 1.5% of the university's expenditure budget this year.

"There is no threat to the university's operations and staff and suppliers will be paid as normal," said vice-chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley.




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