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Oxford University’s Linacre College to Be Renamed After Donation From VietJet CEO

In response to a £155 million (VND4.8 trillion) donation via the SOVICO Group, which Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo is president of, Oxford University’s Linacre College plans to change its name to Thao College.

The Hanoi-based conglomerate that includes branches in finance, banking, aviation, real estate, energy, asset management and investment, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the college on Sunday for the donation.

The money will be used for a new graduate center, graduate scholarships, and to increase the general endowment fund for regular school operations. In a released statement, the college said the gift would be “transformative,” as they have long been one of Oxford’s least-funded colleges.

Founded in 1962, the multidisciplinary college was named after the 16th Century humanist scholar Thomas Linacre. After the first £55 million portion of the donation is received, the school plans to change its name to Thao College. According to the BBC, the decision still needs to be approved by the Privy Council.

Thảo is well-known as Vietnam’s first female billionaire following the founding of VietJet in 2011. Her current wealth is estimated at U$S2.7 billion with diversified investments in aviation, energy, real estate, and finance. She is the vice-president of HDBank, which saw a considerable rise in stock prices in 2021. 

The agreement was announced in Scotland amidst the United Nations Climate Change Conference, during which a number of other deals between the UK and Vietnamese companies and institutions were revealed. Notably, VietJet announced a US$400 million deal with Rolls Royce for engines and servicing for their aircraft. 

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