The University of Oxford is committed to ensuring that it makes investment decisions responsibly and with integrity. The University has adopted a Policy on Socially Responsible Investment (the Policy) to ensure that its investment decisions (including those taken on its behalf) take into account social, environmental and political issues in order to maintain its ethical standards.
The University invests its endowment funds in the Oxford Endowment Fund. The Fund is a pooled vehicle managed by Oxford University Endowment Management Ltd (OUem), a wholly owned subsidiary of the University.
Under the Policy, the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee and the Investment Committee of the Oxford Funds each have specific responsibilities in respect of the operation and application of the Policy.
In addition to the broad ethical approach taken within the Policy itself, Council has agreed four specific investment restrictions. These can be summarised as follows:
- Council has adopted a ban on direct investment in companies which manufacture arms that are illegal under the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010 or the Landmines Act 1998. In respect of pooled investment vehicles, Council has implemented a policy of monitoring investment in such companies by those vehicles.
- Council has asked that OUem continue to hold no direct investments in coal and oil sands and avoid future direct investments in coal and oil sands companies.
- Council approved a restriction on the holding of direct investments in tobacco companies (as defined by Cancer Research UK).
- Council has accepted a Congregation resolution on divestment with an immediate restriction on all direct investment in any fossil fuel exploration and extraction companies and an immediate restriction on new investments in funds which invest primarily in fossil fuel extraction companies (including coal, oil and gas, exploration and extraction, as an addition to the existing restriction on thermal coal and tar sands).
The new fossil fuel restriction, adopted in April 2020, was accompanied by two other main elements: for the University's endowment managers to actively engage with fund managers on the Oxford Martin Principles and to request evidence of net zero carbon business plans across Oxford's entire portfolio of investments, and for the University to appoint an additional member to its Investment Committee to reivew and engage with progress on the new investment restriction, the evidence of net zero plans and to report this progress to the chair of the Investment Committee and in the annual SRI report to Council.
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OUem’s investment process integrates regulatory, legal, reputational, environmental and social considerations (among others) into its investment decisions. Further information is available on OUem’s Governance webpage.