Trinity College Dublin aims to raise €130 million in philanthropic funding over the next two to three years in what it says is the "public" phase of a €400m fundraising campaign.

The campaign will include events across Europe, Australia and the US, designed to encourage alumni and others to donate to the university.

The college says the philanthropic campaign is the largest ever undertaken in education here.

Like other universities, private funding - including philanthropic funding - now forms a significant part of the college's overall income.

Just 40% of its annual turnover now comes from the State, with student fees, industry contracts, commercial revenue and philanthropic donations accounting for the rest.

The college says philanthropic donations now cover between 5% to 10% of annual turnover.

TCD says it has raised philanthropic funding totalling more than €270m over the past seven years. This includes €68m from Chuck Feeney's Atlantic Philanthropies and €25m from the Naughton Foundation.

It says the money raised as part of this campaign will go towards developing new infrastructure and towards other initiatives including reducing the college's student to staff ratio.

TCD's student/staff ration currently stands at 18:1. The college wants to reduce it to 14:1 which it says would put it in line with ratios in leading UK universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

The student/staff ratio has risen over the past decade as a result of cutbacks and limits that were placed on public recruitment here.

The university says this philanthropic campaign, which it is calling 'Inspiring Generations', follows in the path of leading universities internationally.

TCD Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast says the initiative will "advance Trinity into the next decade and lay the groundwork for us to inspire generations to come".

He says philanthropic funding is now key to the development of the university sector.

Later this month the college will open its new business building. Although the building will be formally opened by the Taoiseach, the State will have contributed nothing to its construction.

The €80m project has been entirely funded by private loans, and by philanthropic donations totaling €18m.

Projects to receive funding under this philanthropic initiative, which includes monies both already raised and still to be raised, include a new cancer institute; a new institute for engineering, environment and emerging technologies; and the conservation and redevelopment of the college's Old Library, which houses the Book of Kells and other documents of historic importance.