London: India-born Reuben brothers, who are among the richest businessmen in Britain, have donated 80-million pounds to establish a major new scholarship programme for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Oxford’s newest college, the university said on Thursday.
David and Simon Reuben, recently ranked the UK’s second-richest billionaires with a fortune of 16 billion pounds in ‘The Sunday Times’ annual rich list, made the “transformational gift” to Park College established by the university last year.
The university said that in recognition of the “historic gift” from the Reuben Foundation, the college is now set to become “Reuben College”.
“The current pandemic has shown us just how vital it is to have access to the very best medical research and academic thinking,” the Reuben family said in a statement.
“Fortunately, in the UK we have some of the finest minds in the world working in some of the most pre-eminent academic institutions. We hope that this endowment for the Reuben College will help keep Oxford University at the global forefront of research in the vital areas of Environmental Change, AI and Machine Learning and Cellular Life, thereby helping to improve the lives of millions of people long into the future,” they said.
Due to welcome its first students in the autumn of 2021, Reuben College says it has already attracted an outstanding line-up of academic Fellows. The university’s 39th college – the first for 30 years – was created as a new base for graduate students who are eager to embrace opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange and apply their research to address key future challenges.
The college says it aims to generate new insights into the biggest questions of our time by bringing academics from traditionally different disciplines together to work on challenging themes and share their knowledge with the college’s graduate students. The initial research themes are: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Environmental Change; and Cellular Life, which includes ongoing work in understanding Covid-19 and the current pandemic.
“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Reuben family, Reuben College will join the storied ranks of Oxford Colleges,” said Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.
“Now, more than ever, our society needs a new generation of highly educated researchers to address the global challenges that transcend national borders. This gift represents a vote of confidence in Oxford, a vote of confidence in the power of research to solve societal problems, and above all, a vote of confidence in the future,” she said.
The Reuben Foundation donation expands the existing Reuben Scholarship Programme, which was established in 2012 for disadvantaged undergraduate students. The programme will now also include Oxford-Reuben graduate scholarships for students.
Lisa Reuben, Trustee of the Reuben Foundation, said: “The Reuben Foundation has been supporting Oxford University for many years with its scholarship programme to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We are delighted to further our ties with the university through this endowment, creating the new Reuben College which will become part of Oxford life in perpetuity along with a further enhanced scholarship endowment.”
Located in a suite of buildings on the historic Radcliffe Science Library site, Reuben College is said to be in the heart of the University’s Science Area. The buildings are currently undergoing refurbishment to create a central site for the college’s graduate students.
On completion in 2021, the new college hopes to offer accessible and modern facilities, with flexible spaces for quiet study, group meetings, seminars and workshops, public events and social occasions.
Professor Lionel Tarassenko, President of the college, added: “This gift is a massive endorsement of our mission to provide a genuinely collaborative home for academics and foster new, interdisciplinary approaches to problems of global significance which will inspire our graduate students.”
Reuben College said it is preparing to start recruiting its first cohort of graduate students this September, ready for admission in the autumn of 2021.
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