Money

Billionaire David Harding donates $130 million to Cambridge University, to support student development

Students walk through Cambridge University in Cambridge, east of England, on March 14, 2018.
TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images
Students walk through Cambridge University in Cambridge, east of England, on March 14, 2018.

One of the world's leading educational institutes, Cambridge University, has just become the recipient of the largest single gift to a U.K.-based university by a British philanthropist — and it came from one of its former students.

Founder of investment management firm Winton Group, David Harding and his wife, Claudia Harding, have donated £100 million ($130 million) from their eponymous foundation to Cambridge University, in the hope of supporting student development and encouraging future generations to conduct research at the British institution.

The donation itself is expected to be used in a number of ways. More than three quarters of the money (£79 million) will go to supporting postgraduate students and their work, with fully-funded PhD scholarships up for offer, while £21 million of the gift will be allotted to support students on undergraduate courses.

Claudia and David Harding
Courtesy and Credit: University of Cambridge
Claudia and David Harding

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Cambridge University's Vice-Chancellor Stephen J Toope said Tuesday that the donation would be "invaluable in sustaining Cambridge's place" among the world's top educational institutions and help attract and support 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 added.

David and Claudia Harding are considered "generous supporters" by the institution, with the pair having previously donated to a range of scientific and educational causes at the university, in addition to other initiatives around the U.K., including the Science Museum Group.

Other philanthropists and alumni have been known to donate large sums of money to British universities, including Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation donated $210 million and set up a scholarship program at Cambridge University back in 2000.

The Winton Group founder graduated from Cambridge in the 1980s, with a First Class Honours degree in natural sciences that specialized in theoretical physics. David went onto establish the investment management firm in 1997, while Claudia is the Managing Trustee of the David and Claudia Harding Foundation.

The couple said that they hoped this donation would encourage future generations of students from around the globe to study at the leading university.

"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," David Harding said in a statement.