A commonly held claim is that Nuffield is the richest educational institution in the world per capita. This claim even featured in the 2012 pantomime. But is it true? In this post, I compare Nuffield's endowment per capita to the endoment per capita of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford--the four richest U.S. colleges.
Since it is not exactly clear how 'endowment per capita' should be defined, I use three alternative definitions. The first is: endowment per student = endowment / students. The second is: endowment per academic person = endowment / (students + faculty + post-docs). And the third is: endowment per person = endowment / (students + faculty + post-docs + admin staff).
The table below displays the endowments, students, faculty, post-docs and admin staff at the five institutions under comparison. The sources for all these figures are given in the next table. I have tried to rely on official sources as far as possible. All figures are from 2013, except possibly those for Harvard's and Princeton's admin staff.
I obtained the Nuffield endowment by converting the college's net assets for 2013 (£175,415,000) into dollars. I obtained the Nuffield faculty by adding together the governing body, the senior research fellows, and the honorary and visiting fellows. While it might seem incorrect to include the college's honorary and visiting fellows (47), my understanding is that one or both of these categories are included in the American institutions' figures. For example, Princeton's website states: "Faculty, including full time, part time and visiting." Nevertheless, I will describe how the rankings change when the college's honorary and visiting fellows are excluded.
The first graph shows the endowment per student of each institution. Nuffield's is indeed the largest. The second graph shows the endowment per academic person of each institution. Here, Nuffield finishes in third place behind Harvard and Princeton. The third graph shows the endowment per person of each institution. Here, Nuffield finishes in second place behind Princeton.
If Nuffield's honorary and visiting fellows are excluded, the college moves into second place on endowment per academic person, and remains in second place on endowment per person. Therefore, while Nuffield may be the richest educational institution in the world per student, it does not seem to be the richest educational institution in the world per academic person or per person. One caveat is that the figure for Princeton's admin staff comes from the University's Wikipedia page, which does not provide a source. However, the figures for Princeton's students, faculty and post-docs are all from official sources, so--at the very least--Nuffield is unlikely to be the richest educational institution in the world per academic person.