Van Houten Fund

The van Houten Bequest is a fund left by the late Georges van Houten in the 1960s to be used ‘for the benefit of the University in such ways as the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, and Council shall see fit’. The Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, Council and PRAC agreed in 2005 to delegate responsibility to the Registrar to approve grants subject to a regular report to be made to Council on the decisions taken.

Bids are invited once a year, usually in Michaelmas term, for grants to be used to support projects that can be shown to offer a broad strategic benefit to the University, but that do not form part of the normal day-to-day operations of a department and would not easily be funded from other regular sources.                   

Grants to applicants from within the University are usually in the region of £2,000 - £12,000, either given as a one-off award, or spread over two or three years. Grants are also available to organisations external to the University; in such cases, the amounts awarded are usually lower and there is a cap on the total amount of funding made available to external organisations, which is £25,000 for the current financial year. Certain such projects, which would more appropriately be supported from the University’s Community Grants Scheme, will be advised to apply to that fund.

The most recent invitation to bid, in November 2016, attracted eleven applications and resulted in awards for nine of those. Grants awarded recently have included support for:

  • the expansion of a Welcome Service for international staff;
  • a new video series for prospective students to showcase the accessibility of the University to students with a disability;
  • workshops in Oxfordshire secondary schools to teach young people about beatboxing history and coach them in using their bodies and voices to create sound and rhythm.


The guidelines by which bids are assessed are as follows:

  1. Bids for grants will be assessed according to the breadth of the benefit to the University offered by the project in question, the strategic importance of the project to the University and the availability of funds. Only in exceptional circumstances will a grant be awarded in respect of a project which benefits a single department.
  2. Grants will not ordinarily be awarded for purposes for which other trust fund (or similar) support exists within the University, for example, the funding of academic scholarships, regardless of whether or not the alternative fund(s) in question are in a position to fund the expenditure proposed.
  3. Grants will not ordinarily be awarded in respect of costs for which a department might reasonably be expected to hold a budget.
  4. Grants will not ordinarily be agreed in respect of recurrent activities except to provide:
    1. seed funding to support an activity in its first one to three years; or
    2. bridging support for one year only where a source of funding is lost and the department/faculty in question is confident that an alternative can be found for the following year.
  5. Grants will not ordinarily cover the full cost of a project. Departments will be expected to make some contribution, or to use the grant secured by the Van Houten Fund to assist in securing other funding (including external funding).
  6. The extent to which funds may be awarded to external organisations each financial year may be subject to an upper limit, to be set by the General Purposes Committee and reviewed on an annual basis.

Contact Details

Secretary: Mrs Adrienne Lingard  (01865 6)11627

University Offices
Wellington Square