British Jewish philanthropists Simon and David Reuben have given the University of Oxford £80 million to build its first new post-graduate college in a generation.
The billionaire brothers’ funding paves the way for Reuben College to open its doors in September 2021, with study focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning, environmental change, and cellular life, which includes ongoing work in understanding COVID-19 and the current pandemic.
The reclusive duo were born in Mumbai to a family of Jewish textile merchants with roots in the Persian Gulf, and came to the UK in the 1950s, making their money in industries such as scrap metal and carpets, then later in mining in the former Soviet Union.
Their £80 million donation comes from the Reuben Foundation, set up in 2002 and run by Simon’s daughter Lisa. It has funded several London and Israeli hospitals, as well as organisations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Holocaust Educational Trust.
The university said £15 million of this week’s grant would go towards establishing a new student scholarship programme, while £9 million would pay for undergraduate scholarships for students from low-income families.