Edinburgh University’s ultra-rich graduates inherit their money from family fortunes


SCOTLAND’S top two universities produce more graduates who live off inherited wealth than either Oxford of Cambridge.

Research shows that of Edinburgh University’s ultra-rich graduates – those worth at least £20m – more than a quarter get their money from family fortunes.

And among Glasgow University’s wealthiest former students, almost a fifth rely on inherited cash, according to the study by consultants Wealth X.

Japan’s Princess Mako is one royal to have studied at Edinburgh University


Surprisingly, despite their elite image, Oxford and Cambridge universities both have fewer millionaire graduates living off inherited money.

The figure for Oxford is 14% and for Cambridge 13%.

Student leaders said the figures showed both Scottish universities needed to do more to make sure they are not just for the “privileged elite”.

The study looked at Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) graduates across the UK who are worth £20m or more, including shares and property investments.

It divided their “wealth source” into three categories – “self made”, “inherited” and a mixture of the two.

Edinburgh’s 80 ultra-rich graduates were worth around £52million each, but 26% of them sourced their money from inheritance.

A further 28% sourced their wealth from a mixture of inheritance and self-made cash.

Just 46% had earned their fortunes as “self-made” men or women.



 At Glasgow University 18% of the 80 ultra-rich graduates sourced their money from inheritance.

The study showed 65% of them were “self made”, with the rest a mixture of the two and 94% of them were men.

Nine out of ten of Edinburgh’s ultra-rich graduates are men.

Among the university’s self-made millionaires are Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Sir Chris Hoy.

The institution also attracts royalty from around the world.

Last year it emerged Japan’s Princess Mako was to study at the university.

German aristocrat Prince Albert II, who can trace his noble lineage back to the Holy Roman Empire and has been described as the world’s youngest billionaire, studied economics and theology at the university.

Other royalty to study at the university include Romania’s Princess Margareta and Princess Raiyah of Jordan.

Glasgow University’s well-heeled alumni include self-made men such as former RBS chief Fred Goodwin, current HSBC chief Douglas Flint and 300 actor Gerard Butler.

Graeme Kirkpatrick, a vice-president at Scotland’s National Union of Students, said: “We know that students from Scotland’s poorest communities are significantly under-represented at many universities, particularly at the Ancient Universities,  like Edinburgh.

“If these statistics are true it’s clear that judging by the wealth of their graduates, more needs to be done to ensure fair access to these universities. We need to be able to hold up a mirror to every university in Scotland and see a reflection of Scottish society.

“Current legislation going through Parliament provides an excellent opportunity to ensure more is done to improve Scotland’s poor record on fair access in all areas of study. However, we also need universities to play their part and do what they can to improve access.”

Edinburgh University’s Students Association said the institution needed to ensure students from all backgrounds were represented at the University.

President James McAsh said: “These figures only demonstrate the urgency of the University of Edinburgh’s ongoing strategic priority to widen participation.

“It is clear that both the University and the Scottish Government have a long way to go to ensure that our education sector is actively working to create a more equal society, rather than providing pride of place to the privileged elite.

“It is time we make sure our doors are open to all with the ability and the desire to learn.”



Edinburgh University said it offered the best bursaries in the UK for students from low income backgrounds.

A spokesman said: “We are committed to widening participation and to increasing the diversity of our student population. We run a number of widening participation projects to encourage and support those from non-traditional backgrounds to apply for, and enter, higher education.

“Our admissions policies aim to identify students with the potential to succeed at Edinburgh, regardless of their background, and we offer the best bursaries in the UK for low income students.

“We also take student retention very seriously and are investing in student support in a variety of ways so that every student, whatever their background, can benefit.

“Last year the proportion of our students not continuing was approximately half that of the Scottish and UK sector averages.”