First Harding Scholars welcomed

The University’s first Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars were welcomed this week at a special event at St Catharine’s College.

In February, the University announced David and Claudia Harding’s unprecedented £100 million gift to help attract the most talented postgraduate and undergraduate students, from the UK and around the world. David, together with University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope and Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s College, met 25 students from 14 countries.

The students are studying subjects in 17 University Faculties and Departments, at 14 Colleges. Their PhD research topics include cancer therapy, quantum gravity, street crime, and homelessness.

The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme – funded by the David and Claudia Harding Foundation – will ultimately fully fund, in perpetuity, more than 100 PhD students in residence across the University at any one time. Scholarships are available to the most talented students for research in any discipline.

St Catharine’s, of which David Harding is an alumnus, received £25 million of the gift to support postgraduate scholars on the Programme at the College.

Undergraduates are also benefitting from the donation. 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.

David Harding said: “My education at Cambridge formed the foundation of my career, and indeed, my life. I am delighted that, through the Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme, Claudia and I are able to assist others to join one of the greatest universities in the world. We are extremely pleased that our gift to Cambridge is already enabling more outstanding students from around the globe to research and study here.

“The breadth and depth of talent within the first cohort of Harding Scholars is incredibly impressive, and we look forward very much to following their progress in the years to come. And that isn’t simply because we want each and every one of them to excel, although of course we do. It’s because we know that through their research, innovation and ideas, the Harding Scholars will become leaders in our society, and key contributors in tackling the world’s greatest challenges – something Cambridge has done with outstanding success for more than 800 years.”

Professor Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s College, said: “It was an enormous pleasure to host the first Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars, together with David Harding and the Vice-Chancellor, at St Catharine’s. Research students make a tremendous contribution to the University’s social impact. Their presence also enriches both academic and social life within their respective colleges. St Catharine’s was delighted to welcome its first Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars this year. We look forward to welcoming more in the future.”

Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “I wish to extend my sincerest congratulations to the remarkable PhD students joining the Cambridge community. The new ideas and energy they will bring – incubated in our unique environment of research, learning and cross-disciplinary collaboration – have the potential to change the world for the better.”