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£100m donation is Cambridge University’s biggest ever gift

£100m donation is Cambridge University’s biggest ever gift

Cambridge University has received its biggest ever gift – a £100 million donation from the David and Claudia Harding Foundation.

The donation is also the largest-ever single gift given to a UK university by a British philanthropist.

It will be used to try and attract talented under- and post-graduate students from the UK and abroad, by driving a £500 million fundraising drive, announced last autumn, aimed directly at increasing financial and wider support for students at Cambridge University.

The gift from David and Claudia Harding Foundation has two main components:

Firstly, the Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme, supported by £79 million, will provide fully funded scholarships for the most talented PhD students. Starting in October 2019, this will ultimately fully fund, in perpetuity, over 100 PhD students in residence at any one time. Scholarships will be available to the most talented students for research in any discipline and the successful candidates will be offered places at applicable Cambridge Colleges.

St Catharine’s College, of which David Harding is an alumnus, will receive £25 million of the gift to support those postgraduate scholars on the Programme at the College.  Undergraduates at St. Catharine’s will also benefit from the wider purposes of the donation.

Secondly, the remaining £21 million has been earmarked for supporting undergraduate students. In collaboration between the University and the Colleges, The Harding Collegiate Cambridge Challenge Fund, worth £20 million, aims to encourage further donations from alumni for financial support to undergraduates. A further £1 million is set aside to stimulate innovative approaches to attracting undergraduate students from under-represented groups.

The University and Colleges have set a target to increase the number of postgraduates in residence by 13% from 6,500 in 2016/17 to around 7,400 by the end of 2021.

Prof Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said:

“This extraordinarily generous gift from David and Claudia Harding will be invaluable in sustaining Cambridge’s place among the world’s leading universities and will help to transform our offer to students. We want to attract, support and fund the most talented students we can find from all parts of the UK and the world.

“We are determined that Cambridge should nurture the finest academic talent, whatever the background or means of our students, to help us fulfil our mission ’to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.”

David Harding said:

“Claudia and I are very happy to make this gift to Cambridge to help to attract future generations of the world’s outstanding students to research and study there. Cambridge and other British centres of learning have down the ages contributed greatly to improvements in the human condition and can continue in future to address humanity’s great challenges.”

David Harding founded Winton, a global investment management and data science company, in 1997. Claudia Harding is the Managing Trustee of the David and Claudia Harding Foundation and is a Trustee of the Science Museum Foundation.

The couple have donated to numerous scientific and mathematical causes in the UK and internationally, including Cambridge University, the Science Museum, the Crick Institute and the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. The main themes of their philanthropy have been supporting basic scientific research and the communication of scientific ideas.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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