Australian mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest and his wife, Nicola, will donate $65 million (US$61.6 million) to the University of Western Australia to fund research fellowships at five universities, the Australian reports.
The gift — one of the largest ever to an Australian institute of higher education — includes $50 million (US$47.4 million) to establish the Forrest Foundation, which will provide funding to cover tuition, fees, and a living allowance for twenty-five international Ph.D. students and six postgraduate researchers annually. The funds will be divided among the five universities in the state of Western Australia, with UWA in line to receive roughly three-quarters of the funding, the Australian Financial Review reports. The remaining $15 million (US$14.2 million) will be used to fund construction of Forrest Hall, a "creative living space" to be built adjacent to the university that will house Forrest scholars and fellows.
The Forrests told the Financial Review that they chose UWA to administer the foundation on the basis of its research and teaching excellence. "We want to bring into Australia the world's leading academic talent in a number of postgraduate fields in a way that will benefit the students and the institutions alike," said Andrew Forrest, board chair of Fortescue Metals Group and a UWA alumnus ('83). "We hope this is simply the beginning of Australia, and especially Western Australia, being able to leverage its many advantages to a much greater extent in terms of academic research."
Inspired by the success of the Rhodes scholarship and the Gates Cambridge scholarship, the foundation hopes to attract the brightest young minds from around the world in a bid to establish Perth as a global knowledge hub, the Australian reports. The Forrests are signatories of the Giving Pledge and have supported educational ventures for disadvantaged students in Australia and other countries through their Minderoo Foundation, which they recently combined with one-third ownership of Fortescue in order to better integrate the organizations' respective cultures of philanthropy and business.
"Let us all never forget that only education can be the final key to eliminate poverty in the world and raise the universal standard of living, ultimately to increase the nobility of the human cause,"said Forrest.