OXFORD University staff and students gathered to protest against a new humanities centre which is part-funded by a £150m gift from an American billionaire.

Campaigners are challenging the university on its acceptance of the donation from Stephen Schwarzman to build the new humanities centre near Green Templeton College.

The new centre will be designed to unify seven faculties and six libraries on the Radcliffe Observatory site and could open by 2024.

READ AGAIN: Woman shocked after charging device catches fire

Tom White, a Fellow in the English Faculty, was among those protesting on the steps of the Weston Library today.

Oxford Mail:

He said: “I’m not opposed to the idea of a humanities building as such but this allows Schwarzman to increase his influence. I believe there has been a complete lack of transparency regarding the donation. We want to push for new democratic procedures in the university regarding donations.”

Oxford Mail:

Liam Shaw, a post doctoral researcher in the Department of Medicine, said: “I don’t think staff have been properly consulted - there’s an architecture Q&A today at the Weston Library but that’s cosmetic consultation.”

READ AGAIN: Cowley-built Mini Electric launches

The demonstration came at a time when the University and College Union has voted in favour of industrial action over the national pay settlement. A strike started on Monday and finishes today and there will be further strikes from Monday until Thursday and from March 9 to March 13.

The UCU called on the university to provide further details on how the decision was made to accept the donation.

Oxford Mail:

It added: “We also call on the university to commit to new transparent and democratic procedures regarding gifts and donations, including the creation of a democratically elected body composed of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and local representatives.”

READ MORE: Thieves take number plates in Bicester and Chipping Norton

University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “Since the announcement in June, we have begun an extensive consultation process to involve staff and students in the plans to develop the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.

"We publish information about our donation review processes and governance in the FAQs on our website schwarzmancentre.ox.ac.uk.

“The centre will be a resource for the whole of Oxford, with new facilities for performances, exhibitions, lectures and schools engagement.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Schwarzman said: "I’m proud to partner with Oxford to establish the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities which will unite Oxford’s Humanities faculties for the first time, include a new Institute for Ethics in AI to explore crucial questions affecting the workplace and society, and in addition offer modern performing arts facilities that will deepen Oxford’s engagement with the public."

READ AGAIN: Council to tackle fly-tipping problem

Oxford University’s web page said: “The new Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities is made possible by a £150m landmark gift from Mr Schwarzman, philanthropist and chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative investment firm.

"The Schwarzman Centre will also be home to Oxford’s new Institute for Ethics in AI which will build upon the university’s world-class capabilities in the humanities."