The University of Cambridge has received a gift of £100m to help attract students to the prestigious institution – the largest single donation made to a UK university by a British philanthropist.
David Harding, a billionaire businessman who founded hedge fund firm Winton, and his wife Claudia, a trustee of the Science Museum Foundation, have made the unprecedented donation.
The gift will help provide fully funded scholarships for more than 100 PhD students through a new postgraduate scholars programme from October, supported by £79m, £25m of which will go to St Catharine’s College, where Mr Harding studied natural sciences.
Meanwhile, undergraduate students will be supported with the remaining £21m. The fund will be used to encourage further donations from alumni and to look at the best approaches to attract disadvantaged students.
The donation, the largest of its kind, hopes to propel a £500m fundraising drive announced last year which was aimed at increasing financial support for students at Cambridge.
Prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds who fail to meet the university’s high entry requirements could be given a chance to study at the institution through a transitional year.
Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “This extraordinarily generous gift from David and Claudia Harding will be invaluable in sustaining Cambridge’s place among the world’s leading universities and will help to transform our offer to students.
“We want to attract, support and fund the most talented students we can find from all parts of the UK and the world.
“We are determined that Cambridge should nurture the finest academic talent, whatever the background or means of our students, to help us fulfil our mission ’to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence’.
The David and Claudia Harding Foundation is known for donating to scientific and academic cause
Mr Harding said: “Claudia and I are very happy to make this gift to Cambridge to help to attract future generations of the world’s outstanding students to research and study there.
“Cambridge and other British centres of learning have down the ages contributed greatly to improvements in the human condition and can continue in future to address humanity’s great challenges.”
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