Oxford college’s plan to rename itself ‘is dropped’ after £155million donation from Vietnamese ‘bikini airline’ tycoon never materialised
- Linacre College said it would change its name to Thao College two years ago
An Oxford college has axed plans to rename itself after a Vietnamese billionaire known as the ‘bikini airline’ tycoon after a promised donation of £155million failed to materialise, according to reports.
Linacre College announced that it would change its name to Thao College after Sovico Group chairwoman Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, pending the ‘transformative donation’ by the company.
The plans, which sparked backlash when they were announced almost two years ago, now appear to have been dropped.
Alumni were told at a dinner last month that they would not be receiving the funds, The Telegraph reports.
Restrictions on outward donations imposed by the communist Vietnamese government, who Thao has ties to, were said to be to blame.
Linacre College announced that it would change its name to Thao College after Sovico Group chairwoman Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao
Linacre College was founded in 1962 and named after Thomas Linacre, a renowned 15th century English scholar, humanist and physician
Ms Thao, 53, is now thought to be considering making a sizable donation to Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, where scientists research infectious diseases.
It comes after speculation mounted last year that Ms Thao was having second thoughts over the donation over concerns of the negative publicity surrounding it.
Conservative MP Julian Lewis took issue with the planned change last year, given that Ms Thao, in his words, is ‘extremely close to the Vietnamese communist government, where there’s certainly very little freedom of speech’.
Critics also claimed that the move would ignore the ‘deep history’ behind college names.
Speaking to The Telegraph previously, Thao said: ‘I believe that Oxford is the right place to make my long-time desire to contribute to humanity through education, training and research come true.
‘By donating to Linacre College, we hope to make significant contributions to enrich Oxford’s traditions and reputation.’
It was reported last year that the deadline for the first payment – a whopping £50million – had not been met.
Thao was born in 1970 and became a billionaire aged 21 while studying at university the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow, where she began importing goods.
In 2018 her VietJet airline became immersed in scandal when bikini-clad models were paraded through a plane that was carrying the under-23 national football team.
Ten years later, she took the company public and became south east Asia’s only female billionaire.
In 2018 VietJet became immersed in scandal when bikini-clad models were paraded through a plane that was carrying the under-23 national football team (VietJet airbus landing in Phuket airport, 2020)
Linacre college was founded in 1962 and named after Thomas Linacre, a renowned 15th century English scholar, humanist and physician.
He counted Utopia author Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Wolsey, chief adviser to Henry VIII, among his patients.
Linacre also created the Royal College of Physicians in a bid to raise standards and prevent quack doctors from operating.
The college and Sovico Group were contacted by MailOnline for comment.
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