Controversy as Oxford University maintains Murdoch links

Alice Gormley 20 July 2011

Oxford University, of which besieged Rupert Murdoch is a former student, is in no hurry to sever its ties with the media tycoon, it was revealed on Sunday.

Allegations of News International’s involvement in illegal phone hacking have compromised the careers and reputations of those in the press, police and politics over the past weeks as the episode continues to unfold.

The University received an endowment from News International in 1990, involving funding for the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication, provision for a Times lectureship endowment that funds three lecturers, and a fund providing various small grants, an annual News International visiting professor of media and a work experience scheme for budding journalists.

Grilled on the matter, the University’s representatives appear disinclined to take action. Jean Aitchison, currently holding the position of emeritus Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication at Worcester, informed the Times Higher Education supplement that ‘at Oxford, the chair is simply regarded as a generous gift from an ex-student’.

The institution is amongst few in its continued affiliation with the now-jeopardized establishment, a number of companies having withdrawn their advertising with News of the World prior to its dramatic closure on 7th July.

Murdoch, having studied for a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford, returned to take over family business at 21 in light of his father’s death. Murdoch is known to have keenly backed the Labour party during his time at Oxford, whilst not removing his sights from the career in journalism for which he had been groomed from an early age.

Alice Gormley