The Reuben Foundation has increased both the number of undergraduate scholars it funds at Oxford University, and its donations for buildings at Reuben College.
The new graduate college, located on Parks Road, Oxford, has welcomed its inaugural students this year, with 136 graduates taking almost 70 different subjects. It is the first new college across both Oxford and Cambridge since 1990, which saw the establishment of the graduate Kellogg College. Provisionally names Parks College in December 2018, Oxford University named Reuben College in recognition of the £80 million gift given by the Reuben Foundation towards an endowment and Scholarships.
The Reuben Scholarship Programme forms part of the Reuben Foundation, formed in 2002 by brothers Simon and David Reuben for the betterment of health and education across the glove. The programme aims to support high-achieving students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in their life at University.
Since the establishment of the programme in 2012, it has provided financial support to hundreds of undergraduate students each year, with a further 132 scholars joining Oxbridge in Autumn 2021. The growth of this programme means that 400 Reuben scholars will be studying at Oxford by 2023-24; approximately 70 new scholars will be welcomed onto the programme each academic year.
Second place on the Sunday Times Rich List 2021 (with an estimated net worth of £21.465bn) and rumoured to make use of offshore tax havens, the Reuben brothers are controversial figures. They have been known to make donations of up to £2.5 million to the Conservative Party. Further, Reuben Brothers are property developers with links to dangerous aluminium-composite cladding – the type used on Grenfell Tower. The Reuben Brothers co-own European Land and Property, which developed the Paddington Walk block of flats in West London using this cladding.
The Reuben Brothers have a history of supporting the University, including significant donations of healthcare equipment to Oxford University Hospitals during the pandemic. The Foundation has pledged to donate a further £8 million in order to refurbish and maintain the Worthington and Jackson buildings. Additionally, the site on Winchester Road, comprising three Victorian villas and a newly constructed “Reuben Graduate Centre” at the back of the gardens, will be funded by the donation.
Reuben College initially identified three key areas on which its research would be based: artificial intelligence and machine learning, environmental change and cellular life. In November 2020, ethics and values became the college’s fourth academic theme, adding to the rich culture of enterprise, innovation and public engagement with research that the college champions.
When the £8 million donation was pledged, Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, said: “The Reuben Foundation has been extraordinarily generous in supporting disadvantaged students and, more recently, in funding the creation of Oxford’s newest college … students and scholars across Oxford are in their debt.”
President of Reuben College, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, commented: “This latest gift demonstrates the extraordinary commitment of the Reuben Foundation to our college. It makes a significant contribution to the refurbishment of our heritage buildings, and enables us to expand the accommodation available to our students, including the provision of a social hub in the Reuben Graduate Centre.”
A spokesman from the Reuben Foundation said that the Graduate Centre “will be the social hub for students outside study hours, offering a Graduate Common Room, gym and cinema.”
Donations from the Reuben Foundation have enabled the first cohort of Reuben Graduate Scholars to begin postgraduate qualifications this academic year, with the scholars split evenly between research students and students undergoing taught degrees.
The aim of the Reuben Graduate Scholarship Programme is to attract a diverse range of talented students, with the expectation that many of them will become leading Oxford University academics in the future. The first Reuben Graduate Scholars are both UK and international students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds; the scholarship will allow them to commence interdisciplinary studies at Oxford without financial concerns.
The Reuben Brothers, Reuben Foundation, and Reuben College have been approached for comment.