History of the Clarendon Fund


The Clarendon Fund is a major graduate scholarship scheme at the University of Oxford, offering around 100 new scholarships every year. In 2009-10, there are 298 Clarendon scholars at Oxford representing 35 different nations. Awards are made based on academic excellence and potential across all subject areas, enabling the most distinguished scholars to study at Oxford University, one of the world's top five universities and the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

The Clarendon Fund was launched in 2001, and since that time the scholarship has enabled over 900 international scholars, who represent the elite academic candidates of their generation, to undertake graduate studies at Oxford. 

The University has one goal in mind when selecting Clarendon scholars: to elect the best students worldwide, as decided by experts in each student's field. This aspect makes the scholarship unique: while many other scholarships stress the need for demonstrated leadership in their selection criteria, Oxford believes that by electing and nurturing the best and brightest minds in any given field the advancement of their study at Oxford will, by its very nature, produce leaders in that field. Furthermore, the process of selection means that the Clarendon scholarly community contains equal number of students from each of the University's four academic divisions, and this diversity is an immense strength for inter-disciplinary interaction amongst the scholars.

The Clarendon Fund has grown significantly since its inception in 2001: to date, the fund has received over £37m in support from its sponsor, Oxford University Press (OUP).  This generous funding allows scholars-elect to study at Oxford regardless of financial capability, helping to remove any barriers that may stand in the way of the best graduate applicants.  In return, their attendance enables Oxford University to maintain its position as a leading academic institution, providing long-term value to the University which has been described as 'immeasurable' by former Vice-Chancellor Dr John Hood.


The Clarendon Fund was established in 2000 by Oxford University's Council, the executive policy-forming body of the University consisting of the Vice-Chancellor, heads of departments and other University members. The Fund is financed by Oxford University Press, and dedicated resources to its continuation have increased dramatically since its inception: from £2m per annum in the year of its establishment to £7.5m per annum since 2008.

A bearded statue. Image @ Copyright Hao Zhang

The original aim of the Fund, as agreed by Council in 2000, was to 'assist the best overseas [graduate] students who obtain places to study in the University'. The academic excellence and potential of the students supported by the Clarendon Fund remain its key strength.  Whilst other scholarship programmes at Oxford provide significant opportunities for many scholars to study at Oxford, the Clarendon Fund is unique in its ability to provide assistance to students from a wide variety of countries who are selected based solely on their excellent abilities related to their field of study. 

About the donor

Oxford University Press (OUP) is one of the departments of the University of Oxford; a publishing house which printed its first book in 1478, only two years after William Caxton established the first printing press in England.  It is the largest University Press in the world, publishing in multiple academic fields with offices all over the world. Through its activities, OUP furthers Oxford University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education.

Partnership Awards

Over half of the colleges of the University of Oxford also contribute to the Clarendon Fund and in these cases scholars are offered a combined College-Linked Clarendon Scholarship, tenable at the college offering the award. For entry in October 2009, the University was delighted to offer 56 scholars a College-Linked Clarendon Scholarship, adding over £800,000 to the total funds available to the Clarendon Fund.

In the future, the University will be working with other donors who may wish to offer full funding in partnership with the Clarendon Fund, further broadening the reach of this prestigious scholarship scheme.

Why is the scholarship called the Clarendon Fund?

Edward Hyde, later Earl of Clarendon and also Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1660-1667, wrote a famous and highly profitable work, History of the Great Rebellion, about the English Civil War of the 17th century. The profits of his book were used to construct the University-owned Clarendon Building on Broad Street in central Oxford. The Clarendon Building was designed to house Oxford University Press (OUP), and so the Clarendon Fund was named in honour of this famous building and its historic linkages to OUP, the main benefactor of the Clarendon Scholarships.

About the logo

The Clarendon Fund logo was designed in 2009 in the run-up to the Fund's 10th anniversary. It celebrates both the long history and traditions of Oxford and of OUP, as well as welcoming the Clarendon scholars who will write the pages of the University's future.

Sandstone columns in an Oxford doorway. Image @ Copyright Hao Zhang

It shows the statues of the Muses at the top of the Clarendon building, which are perhaps the building's most recognisable feature and an iconic part of the Oxford skyline. The building was constructed in the classical style from 1711-13 on the design of Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.

The font used with the logo is called Trajan Pro and has its origins in the roman lettering found on Trajan's Column, which was completed in 113 CE. It was chosen specifically to complement the architectural style of the Clarendon building. Trajan remains one of the most widely used fonts in book jacket cover design, a further link to the Clarendon Building's original use as the home of OUP.

(With thanks to Toby Whiting)