Supporting Magdalen

Getting young people to Magdalen can transform their lives, as it did mine.

Pamela Jacobsen (2001)

These are our fundraising priorities:

Magdalen is currently facing a real threat to its core activity – the tutorial system – which we believe is at the heart of the College’s claim to academic excellence. Although fee levels for Home/EU students have risen dramatically in recent years, cuts in Government grants mean that this does not improve the University’s or the College’s finances to a significant degree, and the capping of the fee at £9,000 only pays about half of what it costs to provide an undergraduate education at Oxford. The shortfall is currently being met by endowment, conference and residential income and increasingly, philanthropy. In the face of ever decreasing government support Magdalen, and the entire Collegiate University, are becoming more reliant upon the generosity of old members and supporters to maintain the Tutorial System.

For further information or to give your support please contact:

Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

As part of our response to the current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and in partnership with the University of Oxford, we are launching a new fund to help those impacted by war, persecution, and conflict to continue their academic work in safety at Magdalen.

We want to provide an academic home for those at risk and help equip them with the skills needed to rebuild their societies when the moment comes.

We need to raise £100,000 to deliver:

  • CARA Fellowship
    A two-year Fellowship for an academic at immediate risk in their home country, to enable them to escape to a place of safety to continue their work, by providing accommodation and funding for them and their family. Learn more about the CARA Fellowship.

This is an opportunity to make a tangible difference to the lives of those affected by war and persecution. Your support could have a life-changing impact.

All contributions of any size will make a difference.

For further information please contact:

Anna Norman
Deputy Development Director & Head of Alumni Engagement
+44 (0)1865 610342

In 2003 Magdalen launched the Student Support Fund, to help the College to maintain its crucial principle of offering access to students by merit alone and to help to ensure that no student abandons their course as a result of financial hardship. An increasing number of students are finding it a challenge to complete their course because of the rising living costs, increased tuition fees and reductions in government subsidies, so these awards are invaluable to ensure students can study at Magdalen without financial worries.

The Student Support Fund not only provides bursaries, scholarships and hardship awards, it also helps to fund Magdalen’s share of the Oxford Opportunity Bursary Scheme which is among the most generous financial support schemes in the UK. The Student Support Fund is now assisting about 100 of our current students each year.

Over the past 10 years over 50 Magdalen old members have endowed named scholarships and bursaries with the income from these awarded to students annually. If you would like to discuss setting up either a named award then please contact:

Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

One of our most important responsibilities is to ensure that prospective students with the greatest potential have every opportunity to realise it here, at Magdalen. A gift to our Access and Outreach Programme will help us to reach the brightest students from the widest possible pool and give them the information and support they need in order to make a competitive application.

Our Outreach Team has faced challenges during the pandemic in trying to ensure that the young people in our link regions and beyond continue to be supported. In place of in-person visits to Magdalen, we ran virtual taster days and virtual taster subject lectures. For young people unable to attend live events, we have also created a bank of online resources including academic and admissions talks, student Q&A videos and a resource pack to help students explore their chosen subject. During Trinity Term we held 30 outreach events involving over 500 potential applicants with more events planned over the coming weeks.

The breadth and scope of our Access and Outreach activity continues to expand enormously. Magdalen already works with in partnership with educational organisations including Target OxbridgeThe Access Project, and IntoUniversity and we continue to strengthen these relationships.

For further information or to give your support please contact:

Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

Magdalen research students are selected from among the brightest minds in the world, and are finding solutions to some of our greatest 21st-century challenges.  Yet every year a significant number of the best candidates, handpicked by our Fellows to form part of their world-leading research team or to become the academics of the future, decline their offer of a place at Magdalen due to lack of funding. These stellar candidates are lost to other institutions that can provide funding, or in some cases they abandon postgraduate study altogether.

Our aim is to ensure that every student is able to take up their place and fulfil their potential. To do this, we need to be able to offer financial support as necessary, and your support of this fund helps us to do just that.

Why is graduate research so important?

As recent global events have highlighted, Oxford University is a world-leading research university. Graduate researchers are at the forefront of this activity, not only trained to become the researchers of the future, but increasingly carrying out vital research themselves.  And in turn, access to outstanding graduate researchers is cited as the main reason why many world-leading academics choose to work at Oxford, as well as inspiring the very brightest undergraduates who wish to enter research themselves.

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Why is there an urgent need to support graduate research now?

Changes to the funding framework in the UK in recent years have created significant funding cuts. There are different challenges in the Humanities and Sciences but both face difficult circumstances. In the Sciences 29% of Oxford graduate students are now fully self-funded, in the Humanities this figure is over 43%. No one wants to see Oxford return to the days of ‘gentleman scholars’, where only those of independent means are able to undertake graduate research.  If we lose those world-class applicants who require financial support, over time it will threaten Oxford’s position as the best research university in the world.

Unlike for undergraduates, there is no student loan facility available to students at postgraduate level. Without independent means, for many of our applicants a studentship is critical to being able to accept the place at all. Having made significant progress to improve socio-economic diversity at undergraduate level, Magdalen is determined to level the playing field at postgraduate level too.

60% of graduate student places offered across the University are declined
due to lack of funding.

Case Study

Hemani Chhabra (DPhil Theoretical Chemistry) uses theoretical chemistry techniques to research better mechanisms for delivering cancer drugs. Her research is funded partly by Chemistry Department and partly by the College, and would not be eligible for government funding. She says of the financial support provided by the College, ‘I wouldn’t be in Oxford without it’.

Facts and Figures

Magdalen graduate numbers:

  • 232 graduate students make up 36% of the total Magdalen student body of 640 students
  • Of these:
    • 53% are UK students and 47% from overseas
    • 64% are research (DPhil) students, with 36% on taught courses (including Clinical Medicine)
    • 31% are in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences division; 30% in Medical Sciences; 23% in the Humanities; and 16% in the Social Sciences
    • 18% are self-funding
    • 25% are financially supported by the College for at least part of their basic costs (to the tune of £557,000 in 2019/20)

  Cost of graduate study in 2020/21:

  • DPhil fees range from £7,970 per year for a UK student to £23,500 per year for an overseas student (which now includes EU students).
  • Basic maintenance costs are £15,245 per year
  • The total cost of a three-year DPhil therefore ranges from c.£70,000 for a UK student to c.£116,000 for an overseas student (bearing in mind that most DPhils now take four years rather than three)

The Funding Patchwork

The University departments are often able to cover part of the cost from a variety of internal and external funding sources, with the colleges expected to make up the remainder in order for the student to qualify for the University scholarship.

Our Goal

Our goal is to be able to provide the college portion of funding for every graduate student we offer a place to who is unable to obtain funding from other sources, in conjunction with the partial awards offered by the departments.

How you can help

Any amount our supporters give can enhance the Graduate Scholarship Fund which provides flexible funding the College can use to create full scholarships by pairing with departmental awards.

For those interested in supporting a full studentship:

  • £45,000 (£15,000 a year for 3 years) provides the livings costs for one student’s DPhil, and this will be paired with a departmental fees award to create a full scholarship
  • We aim to build an endowment adequate to provide for at least 10-20 of these awards over the next few years.

Please get in touch to find out more about tax-efficient giving.

Thank you

With your help we hope to ensure that every world-class graduate student that Magdalen selects is able to take up their place, and we are excited to see the discoveries and breakthroughs that will result in the years to come.

For further information or to give your support please contact:

Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

Magdalen is delighted to support a new scholarship for UK Black or minority ethnic doctoral candidates in Law, in partnership with the Faculty of Law. We are committed to attracting the very best candidates for research degrees, irrespective of their background or ability to pay. Students from Black or ethnic minority backgrounds who are ordinarily resident in the UK have been under-represented in Oxford’s doctoral programme in recent years. It is hoped that this scholarship will encourage more of the very brightest minds from these backgrounds to apply for the DPhil in Law at Magdalen.

Magdalen will be one of four colleges (along with New College, Christ Church and Merton) offering the new needs-based scholarships which will provide full Home fees and maintenance for three years. The Magdalen College scholarship will be available to candidates starting in October 2022.

To do this, we need your support. The cost of the award is £45,000 (£15,000 a year for 3 years), for which the Faculty of Law will contribute a further £10,000 a year. All contributions of any size to the scholarship fund are welcomed and will make a difference.

Unlike for undergraduates, there is no student loan facility available to students at postgraduate level. For most of our graduate applicants funding is critical to being able to accept the place at all. Having made significant progress to improve diversity at undergraduate level, Magdalen is determined to level the playing field at postgraduate level too. Magdalen aspires to be able to provide the required living costs funding for every graduate student we offer a place to, in conjunction with the fees awards offered by the departments.

For further information please contact:

Anna Norman
Deputy Development Director & Head of Alumni Engagement
+44 (0)1865 610342

Magdalen’s historic buildings and grounds provide a unique and inspiring environment for our students, but their long term care comes at a high price. Almost the entire College is listed and features on the statutory list of buildings of ‘special architectural or historic interest’. Essential maintenance and improvements are expensive and we are becoming ever more dependent on philanthropy to meet the costs.

For further information or to give your support please contact:

Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

The Choir

The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford was founded in 1480 with provision made in the statutes for sixteen singing boys, eight Academical Clerks and four chaplains.

This historic legacy has been preserved and maintained over five centuries and the Choir now has an international reputation as one of the finest ensembles in the U.K.

There are now 12 Academical Clerks singing alongside the 16 choristers, and the Consort of Voices was founded in 2010 to offer women students the opportunity to sing in the Chapel on a weekly basis.

In addition to the regular services, the College Choir sings at a number of special occasions throughout the year, including the famous May Day celebrations, an ancient tradition dating back to the 16th century.

The Choristers are part of the College Foundation, with the College providing generous bursaries towards their academic education at Magdalen College School. The Academical Clerks and Organ Scholars are undergraduates at the College, reading for degrees in a variety of subjects.

The College remains committed to supporting the day-to-day activities of the Choir, while the Friends, Patrons and Benefactors of Magdalen College Choir provide essential support in maintaining the Choir’s reputation for touring, recording and performing, and laying the foundations for an endowment that will enable the Choir to flourish for generations to come.

Friend of the Choir
Minimum £10 per month (+ Gift Aid)
(An annual donation could purchase a new set of music)

The benefits of becoming a Friend of the Choir include:

  • Priority booking for the Carols by Candlelight service each Christmas
  • Newsletters about the Choir’s activities
  • Personal acknowledgement in the College’s List of Donors and in all Choir concert programmes

Click here to become a Friend of the Choir

Patron of the Choir
Minimum £40 per month (+ Gift Aid)
(An annual donation could cover the cost of regular singing lessons for one of our choristers)

The benefits of becoming a Patron of the Choir include all of the benefits of being a Friend of the Choir plus:

  • Termly Music List and Chapel Card
  • A complimentary copy of all new CDs recorded by the Choir
  • Two complimentary tickets to the Carols by Candlelight service each Christmas
  • Annual invitation to Evensong and drinks with members of the Choir

Click here to become a Patron of the Choir

Benefactor of the Choir
Minimum £4,000 annually (+ Gift Aid)
(An annual donation could enable the Choir to perform a concert with orchestra or commission a new composition to be premiered by the Choir)

The benefits of becoming a Benefactor of the Choir include all of the benefits of being a Patron of the Choir plus:

  • Four complimentary tickets to the Carols by Candlelight service each Christmas
  • Two complimentary tickets to at least one other Choir concert per year
  • The exclusive opportunity to attend private rehearsals and recording sessions
  • The opportunity to name a clerkship or to be named in bookplates in new copies of music
  • Annual invitation to dinner in College with the Informator Choristarum

Become a Benefactor of the Choir

“My time as an Academical Clerk at Magdalen was crucial in developing the vocal and musical skills that have been the bedrock of my subsequent career as a musician.”

Roderick Williams OBE
Singer, composer and broadcaster
Academical Clerk 1984-87

More information

For further information on becoming a Friend, Patron or Benefactor, please contact:

The Development Office
+44 (0)1865 286658


You can also get all the latest news about the Choir in our newsletter. Email to be added to our mailing list.

Sports and societies

The Magdalen experience is exceptional in providing the opportunity for students to enjoy the widest range of sporting activities and societies, as compared with any other College in Oxford. Donations provide essential support for items such as kit and travel. We are grateful to alumni and friends whose generosity allows every student to explore a wide range of pursuits including sports, art, drama, music and charity work, in addition to their studies.

If you would like to

For further information or to support our sports and societies including rowing please contact:
Sean Rainey
Director of Development
+44 (0)1865 286796

Donor impact in 2021


Amount raised last year


Percentage of alumni who made a gift


Our youngest donor


Our oldest donor


Amount raised for Access and Outreach


The number of countries from which we received gifts

Funeral of Tony Smith

Members of the Magdalen community came together on Saturday 11 December to commemorate former College President Anthony Smith CBE.