Linacre College has announced they will approach the Privy Council to change its name to Thao College following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with SOVICO Group. The College will be named after the company’s President, Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who is the first woman in Vietnam to become a self-made billionaire.
The College intends to change their name after receiving the first £50 million of a donation which will total £155 million.
The College says that the donation will have a “transformative effect”, since it has one of the smallest endowments in the University. In 2018, the College’s endowments came to £17.7 million. The donation will go towards the construction of a new graduate centre, and fund graduate access scholarships. A significant part of the donation will go towards the College’s general endowment fund to support the daily running of the College.
SOVICO Group founded the first private airline in Vietnam – VietJet Air. They also founded HD Bank, which is one of the largest banks in the country. As part of the memorandum of understanding, the company has committed to making all of their subsidiaries reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with the support of academics from Oxford University.
Linacre College was founded in 1962 as a graduate society for men and women. It was named after Thomas Linacre, an English physician and humanist scholar. It became an independent college of the University in 1986 via Royal Charter.
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion. Alongside her position as President of SOVICO Group, she has investments in HD Bank and real estate, including three beach resorts. She is ranked in 1111th place on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest billionaires.