The University of Oxford will decide whether to pull out of its investments in coal and oil sands later.
Students have been campaigning on the issue for over a year because scientists say burning the world’s coal will result in reckless risks to the climate.
It is part of a global movement for public organisations to divest from fossil fuels.
Glasgow University has done so, along with other organisations worldwide.
They include Stanford University, the British Medical Association, the World Council of Churches and the Rockefeller Brothers.
This month, members of the London Assembly urged the Mayor Boris Johnson to withdraw investments in coal, oil and gas.
It is said to be the fastest-growing divestment movement the world has seen as the public becomes increasingly aware that firms have discovered three times more fossil fuel than can be safely burned without excessive risk to the climate.
Oxford is the second richest university in the UK after Cambridge. Its endowment was worth around £3.8bn.
Over the last five years the university has partially divested from arms manufacturing companies.
Two years ago the university accepted funds from Shell for a new Earth Sciences laboratory.
The firm also funds research doctorates in geochemistry. BP spends millions supporting university research.
‘Hear the voices’
A statement from the university said the Student Union made a number of requests relating to the Oxford Funds around its investment policies relating to oil and coal.
A spokesman said: “The university has carried out a consultation on these requests and council will discuss the matter further on Monday.
“We will make a further announcement if a decision is made.”
The Oxford Fossil Free campaign urges the university to evaluate the carbon risk of its portfolio; to move from high-carbon assets to low-carbon alternatives; and to cut direct investments in coal and tar sands oil – the most polluting energy sources.
It has gathered support from students, academics and alumni with over 100 academics signing an open letter calling for action.
Miriam Chapman, a student campaigner at Oxford University, said: “This decision could make climate history.
“Oxford University needs to hear the voices of its students, academics and alumni calling for action on climate change, and an end to investment in fossil fuels.’
Jeremy Leggett, a solar entrepreneur and Oxford alumnus said: ‘I don’t think universities should be training young people to craft a viable civilisation with one hand and bankroll its sabotage with the other.’
The organisers of the campaign globally claim that around 200 institutions with a combined asset size of over $50bn have committed to divest, although the small print of commitments leaves wriggle-room in some cases.