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Reading University Faces Financial Hardship Amid Questions Over £100M Land Deal

Reading University

The university that educated huge swathes of the UK property industry is in financial difficulties and faces questions over the proceeds of a £100M land deal.

Reading University has reported itself to university regulators over the way it handled the sale of a site in Berkshire with planning permission for 1,300 homes, according to The Guardian.

The site was owned by the National Institute for Research in Dairying trust, an organisation set up 100 years ago to fund agricultural research.

Reading University manages the trust, and since the site in Shinfield was sold for £100M, the university has borrowed the money from the trust to fund its own operations, the Guardian said, citing the University's accounts. Loaning itself the money could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Over the past two years Reading's income has been £41M lower than its operating costs, mainly because student numbers have been lower than expected. It also set up a venture in Malaysia which made a loss and forced it to write off £28M. It has high levels of debt compared to its income in comparison to other universities, the Guardian said.

Along with Oxford Brooks University and Cambridge University, Reading has one of the three largest real estate faculties in the UK. Alumni include Hammerson Chief Executive David Atkins, Savills Chief Executive Mark Ridley and CBRE Capital Markets Executive Director Sue Clayton.

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