BP, B&M and Bill Gates amongst Manchester Uni’s top donors

The biggest donor has given £10 million since 2018

The oil giant BP, bargain store B&M and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are amongst just some of the biggest donors to the University of Manchester in the past three years.

Following a freedom of information request, The Manchester Tab can reveal that 135 donations worth £100,000 or more each were given to the university since 2018. All together they totalled more than £57.5 million.

Although many came from charitable foundations, 63 donations were classified as “anonymous” leaving the source of the donations unknown.

The biggest overall donor during this period was Cancer Research UK who donated over £10 million towards the uni’s work.

Other large donations include nearly £1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and £100,000 from retailer B&M.

Amongst those that were named, however, is over £480,000 from BP in 2018. The oil and gas company was recently reported to have allegedly collaborated with the University of Warwick to snoop on one of its students, who was a climate activist.

BP told The Warwick Tab: “BP events have seen legitimate protests over many years, but they have also been targeted by more disruptive and sometimes potentially dangerous actions. We support people’s right to demonstrate peacefully but have a responsibility for the safety and security of those at our events and it is important to understand any risks.”

At the time, Warwick said: “The University of Warwick has a responsibility to keep everyone on campus safe and prevent anyone coming to harm. In 2015, staff within the BP Archive, which operates independently of the University and controls access into the building, reported concerns about their safety in relation to an ongoing campaign on campus.

“In response, we carried out a risk assessment and offered advice in the same way we would do for any individual or group that raised concerns about their safety.

“We fully respect the right of students and staff to protest lawfully and do not carry out targeted surveillance on any individuals or groups.”

Manchester SU’s Welfare and Community Officer, Frazz Heaven, called the revelations regarding donations at UoM “very disappointing.”

“It’s my understanding that some senior members of the university believe that continuing to work with companies will allow UoM to act as a driving force to push companies into a more ethical practice. I don’t personally feel this justification is strong enough, and I would argue that the best action to take to push companies into ethical practice is to boycott them altogether – both in relation to their financial ties as well as any investment of time and labour from members of the University.”

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The £480,000 pledge from BP funds the STEM BP Scholarship Programme, which furthers this work. The programme is designed to provide financial support to students and is aimed at building skills and knowledge in the energy industry.

“The University is committed to working closely with industry leaders to train the next generation of engineers and scientists, and therefore works with BP to deliver this programme to our students.  The University has a robust gift acceptance policy which ensures that potential donations are subject to appropriate due diligence before acceptance.”

BP have been contacted for comment.