Major universities across the UK have been funded with an estimated total of £89 million by oil companies in the last four years.
A new investigation by Opendemocracy suggests that Oxford University, Imperial College London and Cambridge are among those that have been given funding from majors in the oil industry.
The research found Imperial College had accepted more than £54 million, including £39 million from Shell, Oxford got £8 million while Cambridge University received more than £14 million.
The authors of the report suggest a total of 36 universities took funds from eight oil giants.
An Oxford University spokesperson told ELN: “The University of Oxford safeguards the independence of its teaching and research programmes, regardless of the nature of their funding.
“Those donating money or sponsoring programmes at the University have no influence over how academics carry out their research or what conclusions they reach. Researchers publish the results of their work whether the results are seen to be critical or favourable by industry or governments.
“Our partnerships with industry allow the University to apply its knowledge to real challenges of pressing global concern, with funding often going directly into research into climate-related issues and renewables.
“None of the philanthropic funding highlighted by OCJC has gone into extraction and exploration research. Rather, it has been used to widen access to education and to fund scholarships, academic posts and capital costs.
“The proportion of research funding going into fossil fuel exploration and extraction has declined significantly over the last decade, whilst the percentage going into renewables projects has increased.”
In recent months, young activists and students have campaigned against the alleged links of institutions, including universities and museums with the fossil fuel industry.
In October, young environmentalists occupied the Science Museum in London in protest over its sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies.
ELN contacted Imperial College and Cambridge University for a response.