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Harvard University's endowment hits a record value of $53 billion

Investments in private and public markets helped its endowment make a 34% gain

harvard-university-reu Harvard University campus | Reuters

It has been an "outstanding" year for Harvard University with its investment gaining 34 percent, adding $11 billion to its fund.

Investments in private and public markets helped its endowment make a 34 percent gain and swelled to $53.2 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to a Reuters report.

N.P. Narvekar, the university's chief investment officer and chief executive of Harvard Management Company (HMC) told Reuters that Harvard's gains would have been much higher had the school invested in riskier assets. He also cautioned that the endowment won't produce these types of returns every year.

Over the last years, Harvard took less risk in its portfolio than many of its peers, Narvekar said in the university's annual financial report. 

"Put another way, given the extraordinarily strong performance of the overall markets this past year, a meaningfully higher level of portfolio risk would have increased HMC's returns dramatically," Narvekar told Reuters.

Other institutions too gained significantly—The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's endowment returned 56 percent in the year ended in June to $27.4 billion, while Brown University's gained 52 percent to $6.9 billion. 

In the fiscal year 2020, only about a dozen colleges in the country had assets of $11 billion or more., reports Bloomberg.

Harvard University, already the wealthiest in the world, had reported a 7.3 percent gain during the financial year that ended in June 2020, just months after the coronavirus pandemic began. 

Universities in the US receive private donations for endowments and specific projects. Therefore small amount from endowments are used for running the university. 

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