A University of Oxford college is to change its name to Thao College after signing a memorandum of understanding over the money with Sovico Group – represented by its chair, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao.
The £155m donation was offered by Vietnam’s richest woman to Linacre College, who will ask the privy council for permission for the name change.
The graduate college, founded in 1962, is named after the Renaissance humanist, Thomas Linacre. The donation will help to pay for a new graduate centre and access scholarships.
“We have long been one of the least well-endowed colleges at the university, so we are delighted that a significant part of the donation will be for our general endowment fund, to help support the daily running of college,” said Linacre College.
“Sovico Group has also committed to all their subsidiaries reaching net zero carbon by the end of 2050 with the input from leading Oxford academics.”
According to the Tab, Thao made much of her fortune from the budget airline VietJet Air, which is controlled by Sovico. The conglomerate is also the largest shareholder in HDBank, on the board of which she also serves as vice-chair. HDBank is the main financer of the state-owned Vietnam National Petroleum Group.
Some have questioned whether the names of colleges should be made simply because of hefty donations.