What is the purpose of university endowment funds?

One of the things emerging out of the Paradise Papers is that a number of universities are sheltering profits in off shore accounts from investing endowment funds. First, do not most universities have non-profit status? If I am correct, then why is it necessary to shelter "profits" off shore? Second, why are universities hoarding billions in endowment funds in the first place? On one of your Economic Update shows you mentioned that Harvard has the largest endowment. At the time I believe you said it was around 47 billion.dollars. The obvious question is, with this much money in reserve, why do students have to pay tuition at Harvard? Surely they could afford to enable students to attend tuition free. What is the purpose of endowment funds if it is not to support the student learning experience? It seems like many are managed much like venture capital funds.

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