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Oxford University names college for Vietnamese billionaire

Vietnam’s first female billionaire will now have her name on a University of Oxford building following a historic £155 million donation, The Guardian reports. 

Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo, CEO and founder of airline company VietJet Air, broke Oxford University’s record for philanthropic donations. According to The Guardian, the university’s Linacre College will soon be renamed “Thao College.” 

“Education and research are the keys to the development and prosperity of mankind,” Nguyễn said. “I believe the long-term cooperation with Oxford University will bring new opportunities and good value to the community.”

Nguyễn’s son, Tommy Nguyen, was an Oxford student and wrote about his mother in his admissions application, The Guardian reports. 

The donation, which roughly equates to $209.2 million, will be used to create a new graduate center and fund scholarships, according to The Oxford Student. Linacre College’s namesake, Thomas Linacre, was an English scholar from the late 1400s. 

“This gift will have a transformative impact on College and we are immensely grateful for their generosity,” Linacre College said in an announcement. “We have long been one of the least well-endowed colleges at the University.” 

The self-made billionaire made Forbes Asia’s Power Businesswomen list in 2019. According to a Forbes India article, Nguyễn said she aims for VietJet Air to become Vietnam’s first global airline as Asia is the world’s fastest growing market for air travel. 

“If we establish an airline in Europe, we can fly to every country there,” Nguyễn added. “With our competitiveness in services, airplanes, management capacity, cost and ability to provide new services, I am completely confident that we can compete in others’ markets, Europe or the U.S.”

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