MacBain gives Rhodes scholarship programme £75 million to expand

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 3:54am

Billionaire Canadian philanthropist John McCall MacBain has donated £75 million (HK$932.92 million) to expand Oxford University's prestigious Rhodes scholarship programme to elite students from China, Russia and Brazil.

The century-old postgraduate award boasts a list of world leaders among its scholars including former US president Bill Clinton, six Commonwealth prime ministers including Australia's newly appointed Tony Abbott, three Nobel Prize laureates and 18 Pulitzer Prize winners.

But the scholarship, set up in 1903 by the will of Cecil John Rhodes - founder of the southern African territory of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe - currently funds 83 selected students a year only from Commonwealth nations, the United States and Germany.

MacBain was himself a Rhodes scholar and said attending Oxford University was a highlight of his life.

He said he wanted to expand the scholarship programme, which has helped develop future leaders for more than a century.

"I believe that, if he were alive today, Cecil Rhodes would want to help find the leaders of the future in countries such as China, Japan, Brazil and Russia," MacBain said.

"With this endowment, it is hoped that the Rhodes Trust will be able to do just that in the decade to come."

The donation, the largest since the programme was founded, was announced as Oxford University celebrated the 110th anniversary of the scholarship.