The University of Cambridge has received a £100 million gift which will be used to provide PhD scholarships, attract undergraduates from under-represented groups and campaign for further alumni donations.
The gift from the David and Claudia Harding Foundation, which funds scientific research and education, is the biggest single donation made to a UK university by a British philanthropist.
The bulk of the donation – £79 million – will fund a new Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme, which will provide fully funded scholarships for “the most talented PhD students” in any discipline from October 2019. It will ultimately fund more than 100 PhD students in residence at any one time.
Meanwhile, £20 million has been set aside for the Harding Collegiate Cambridge Challenge Fund, which aims to encourage further donations from alumni for financial support to undergraduates. A further £1 million has been earmarked to “stimulate innovative approaches” to attracting undergraduate students from under-represented groups.
Cambridge said that the gift would be a major boost to its ambitious £500 million fundraising drive, announced last autumn, aimed at increasing financial and wider support for students at the institution.
Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope said that the gift “will be invaluable in sustaining Cambridge’s place among the world’s leading universities and will help to transform our offer to students”.
“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’,” he said.
David Harding, who is the founder and chief executive of investment management firm Winton Group and an alumnus of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, added: “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.”