A new school of government is set to be built at Oxford University thanks to a £75m donation from a Soviet Union-born philanthropist.

Leonard Blavatnik has handed over the money for the new school, which would be based in the university’s new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, and indicated he could increase his donation to £100m over time.

The rest of the cost would be funded by the university.

The money would pay for more than 40 academic posts and a new, purpose-built school.

University vice-chancellor Prof Andrew Hamilton said: “The creation of the school would represent an immensely exciting milestone for Oxford.

“For centuries the university has made a uniquely varied contribution to government and public policy around the world.

“The prospect now of being able to bring together under one roof, both this rich tradition, and new and exciting strands of thinking, represents the culmination of a long journey and a new beginning for Oxford.”

The proposals are currently under formal consideration, but if the scheme is agreed by the university, it would be ready to welcome its first students in 2012, offering a one-year Master’s degree.

A global search for a dean for the school – along with discussions with architects to build the new structure – is planned for coming weeks.

Many Oxford alumni have gone on to senior posts in government, including Prime Minister David Cameron – the 26th Oxford-educated British prime minister – Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Edward Heath, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Sir Robert Peel, along with at least 30 other world leaders.

There are very few schools outside America specialising in government and public policy.