Oxford University launches the Blavatnik School of Government

The Blavatnik School of Government, Europe’s first major school of government, is launched today [20 September 2010] at the University of Oxford. 

American industrialist and philanthropist Leonard Blavatnik has committed £75 million to make the School possible and is ready to consider additional measures of support. Mr Blavatnik’s gift is one of the most generous in the University’s 900-year history. The University is contributing an additional £26 million as well as land in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, where the School will be located.

The School will train outstanding graduates from across the world in the skills and responsibilities of government. This global outlook will reflect the strongly international character of Oxford’s graduate community, two-thirds of whose number are from overseas. It will provide a highly practical series of courses, leading to a Master’s degree, with a unique balance of the humanities, social sciences, law, science, technology, health, finance, energy and security policy.

The School will support over 40 academic posts at Oxford. It will also draw on the teaching skills of a much wider range of world leaders in education, business and government itself. The first students will start in 2012 and student numbers will increase to approximately 120 within the next few years. An international search for the inaugural Dean is currently underway, and planning has begun to design the building to house the new School.

World leaders around the globe have expressed support, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former US president Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Lord Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is a once-in-a-century opportunity for Oxford. Through the Blavatnik benefaction, Oxford will now become the world’s leading centre for the training of future leaders in government and public policy – and in ways that take proper account of the very different traditions, institutions and cultures that those leaders will serve. It is an important moment for the future of good government throughout the world.’

Mr Blavatnik, the guest of honour at today’s opening ceremony in Oxford, emphasized that “Oxford University’s reputation provides the School with the opportunity to bring together distinguished teachers and leaders in government to address the entire spectrum of policy issues. My family and I look forward to the School’s significant contribution to all nations and citizens of the world in the years ahead.”

Professor Andrew Hamilton, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “The School represents a huge milestone in Oxford’s history. It will give tomorrow’s leaders the best of Oxford’s traditional strengths alongside new and practical ways of understanding and addressing the challenges of good governance. The University has educated 26 British Prime Ministers and over 30 other world leaders, yet until now the major international schools of government have all been outside Europe, principally in the United States. The establishment of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford will correct that imbalance.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, an Oxford graduate, called Mr Blavatnik’s gift “a very generous act of philanthropy” and said the School would “create a new avenue for training and research in the crucial field of good government and public policy in this country and around the world".

For more information, please contact the University of Oxford Press Office on +44 (0)1865 280534 or email press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk


Notes for Editors:

The Blavatnik School of Government

The Blavatnik School of Government is to be anchored across humanities; medical sciences; social sciences; and mathematical, physical and life sciences. Students will be trained to offer a practically-informed and critical perspective on a wide range of issues, spanning democracy, law and security, economic governance, science and the environment, demographics, public health and social policy.

The Blavatnik School of Government aims to develop tomorrow's leaders, in both the private and public sectors, through an original multidisciplinary curriculum. It will address complex global problems in new and practical ways, drawing on the talents of top teachers and researchers from across the world.

The School will offer a full-time one-year Master’s degree for graduates with an outstanding academic record who want to embrace an integrated approach to public policy, covering economics and finance, politics and law, science and medicine, and history. The course will also include practically focused training in negotiation, budgeting and accounting, strategic communications and evaluation.

About Leonard Blavatnik

Leonard Blavatnik is an American industrialist and philanthropist with a long-standing involvement in numerous educational projects in Europe and the US.   Following university study in Moscow, he emigrated to the US in 1978, received his Master's degree in Computer Science from Columbia University (1981) and his MBA from Harvard Business School (1989) and became a US citizen in 1984.

Mr Blavatnik is the founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held US industrial group. Incorporated in 1986, Access Industries is today an international industrial concern with strategic investments in the US, Europe and South America, focused in three sectors: natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, and real estate.

In addition to corporate directorships, Mr Blavatnik sits on academic boards at Cambridge University, Harvard University and Tel Aviv University and is a former member of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School.

Mr Blavatnik continues to support other prominent universities and institutions including Harvard, Cambridge and Tel Aviv Universities, the New Economic School in Moscow and the New York Academy of Sciences.

In addition to his philanthropic activity elsewhere in the world, and especially in the US, Russia and Israel, Leonard Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation have been generous donors to a wide range of cultural and charity institutions in the UK, including the British Museum, Tate, the Royal Academy, the Royal Opera House, The London Library and The Prince's Trust.

Oxford University’s strengths in Government and Public Policy

The University of Oxford has an outstanding reputation for research about government and public policy both in Britain and in every region of the world. In science, medicine, humanities, and the social sciences, Oxford is making major contributions to policy. It has more than a dozen centres and institutes specialising in the study of specific countries and regions as well as the largest and arguably the best Department of International Development in the world. The University leads global policy-relevant research in science and medicine and its top scientists are advisers to governments and international organisations.

For more than a century Oxford has been expanding its research and teaching in government and public policy: examples include the establishment of the Gladstone Chair of Government at All Souls College, which conducts research into executive government and the politics of public services; and the founding of Nuffield College in 1937, a graduate college specialising in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics, and sociology.

At undergraduate level, Oxford has offered PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) since 1920, a course widely regarded as excellent preparation for a career in government and public policy.

Over the past 20 years Oxford has made a major contribution to Britain’s growing reputation for innovation and excellence in domestic and international policy, both through the training of leading officials and the research, and engagement in policy, of its academics.

Oxonians in British public service

Among Oxford’s alumni are 26 British Prime Ministers, including the current Prime Minister; at least 30 international leaders; 47 Nobel Prize winners; 7 current holders of the Order of Merit; at least 12 saints and 20 Archbishops of Canterbury; and some 50 Olympic medal winners. In the current government, 9 members of the Cabinet were Oxford-educated. The offices of Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer are all currently held by Oxford graduates, as are those of Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Secretary of State for Education, Secretary of State for Transport, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. 117 members of the House of Commons and over 140 members of the House of Lords are Oxonians. Oxford has produced nine of the 12 prime ministers elected since the Second World War: Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair for Labour; Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron for the Conservatives. James Callaghan and John Major did not go to university, and Gordon Brown went to Edinburgh.

Oxford Thinking, the Campaign for the University of Oxford

This gift contributes to the Campaign for the University of Oxford, one of the largest campaigns in the world. The Campaign is aiming to raise more than £1.25 billion in order to transform the University for many generations to come. The theme of the Campaign is Oxford Thinking, and it has three strategic priorities based on the academic priorities of the collegiate University. These are grouped into three main areas which have equal importance: supporting students; supporting academic posts and programmes (both existing and new); supporting buildings and infrastructure. See www.campaign.ox.ac.uk