Van Houten Fund

The Fund is to be used 'for the benefit of the University in such ways as the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, and Council see fit'.  Since 2005, responsibility to assess applications and determine grants has been delegated to the Registrar, subject to a regular report to be made to Council on the decisions taken.

Bids are invited once a year 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. From 2020, bids will usually be invited in Hilary Term.

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 amount awarded are usually lower and there is a cap on the total amount of funding made available to external organisations in any given bidding round. The cap is currently £25,000. 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 February 2022, attracted sixteen applications.  Grants awarded recently have included support for:

  • Behind the White Coat - a project that set out to expose the wider Oxfordshire community to the challenges faced by the NHS and to help tackle the growing issue of medical scepticism;
  • Summer Institute in Computational Social Science  - an event to provide specialist, cutting-edge research methods training and exposure to computational approaches for doctoral students and other junior researchers across the social sciences at Oxford;
  • Oxford Bach Choir Community Programme - a programme aimed at utilising professional musical educators to establish and run choirs in secondary schools which do not have the resources to begin choirs.

The guidelines by which bids are assessed 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:

  • seed funding to support an activity in its first one to three years; or
  • 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.

Payment of Grants

Grants are payable on a reimbursement basis in response to claims demonstrating the actual costs incurred. It is expected that costs will initially be incurred by your Department/College/organisation. Claims must be for the activities as described in the initial application, claims for costs incurred that do not fit with the description detailed in the application, will not be approved.


Bids are considered annually in a gathered field exercise, in each case primarily looking ahead to the following financial year.

The 2022 bidding round is now closed, the next bidding round will open in February 2023.

Further information can be obtained from the Trusts Management Team (via


Contact us

Secretary to the Van Houten Fund

Trusts Management Team

University Offices

Wellington Square