Rhodes Trust announces geographic expansion of scholarships

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On Wednesday, 1 June, the Rhodes Trust announced that it will undergo a “major strategic and geographic expansion” for its second century, including a global expansion of the Rhodes Scholarship program that will designate a number of additional scholarships to students from Africa, Israel and the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The announcement also highlighted the Rhodes Trust’s new £75 million partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies, an international, limited-life foundation for progressive advocacy established by entrepreneur Charles F. Feeney. According to the Trust, the new partnership, along with the geographic expansion, is part of its “widened focus” on convening new international audiences “who are part of addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Established at Oxford University in 1903, the Rhodes Trust awards 83 Rhodes Scholarships each year to non-British postgraduates around the world. Following the geographic expansion, that number will rise to 95, inclusive of the four additional Chinese scholarships announced last year.

In a press release, the Trust announced that in partnership with the Saïd Foundation, Oxford University, and selected Oxford colleges, it will identify new Rhodes Scholars from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. Additionally, an international coalition of donors will support new scholarships for students from Israel. Approximately 250 Rhodes Scholars will now be studying at the University at any given time.

The Trust is also partnering with Yayasan Khazanah for an expansion of the program in Southeast Asia, with a new Rhodes Scholarship for Malaysia.

“The expansion into these regions marks a historic moment for the Rhodes Trust, and further strengthens the opportunity for broader global collaboration and understanding,” said the Trust in a statement.

There will also be an increase in the number of Rhodes Scholars from Africa, with the addition of a West Africa scholarship supported by investor and philanthropist Miles Morland and the Cohen Charitable Trust. The Rhodes Trust noted that Africa will be the focus of a further Rhodes Scholarship expansion in 2017.

“I am absolutely delighted that there will now be Rhodes Scholarships for students from across Israel and the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and more Rhodes Scholarships in West Africa,” said Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. “Embracing global talent and diverse perspectives is a hallmark of pre-eminent universities, and bringing more Rhodes Scholars to the University will enhance Oxford as a truly international community of scholars.”

The Rhodes Trust’s new £75 million partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies will also play a role in welcoming more international scholars to the University. The Trust has announced its intent to work with various Atlantic Fellows programmes to create the new Atlantic Institute, “a central convening and knowledge-sharing hub for the global network of Atlantic Fellows.”

The Atlantic Fellows are an international association of “dynamic, accomplished leaders and thinkers” who are “dedicated to tackling global challenges to health, equity, opportunity, and inclusion.” The Atlantic Institute will seek to connect Fellows around the world by sponsoring global convenings and annual innovation prizes, thereby maximizing the Fellows’ impact in addressing persistent challenges to local and global societies.

The Atlantic Institute grant also includes a capital project at Rhodes House to allow for expanded convening and conferences in Oxford. The development will include a large presentation, arts, and theatre space below ground level, and will increase the capacity of Rhodes House to 750.

“From its inception, Atlantic has invested in people and in their vision and ability to realise a better world,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

“The Rhodes Trust has built an unparalleled community of leaders with a commitment to serve others and better society. Their experience and their vision to amplify the impact of the existing network of Rhodes Scholars make them an ideal partner to connect and strengthen the new Atlantic Fellows programmes and their prospect for impact.”

The Atlantic Philanthropies is also fortifying the core Rhodes Scholarships and helping to create a new award, the Rhodes Fellowships, which will support mid-career individuals with breakthrough projects. The Atlantic Institute will also benefit Rhodes Scholars, who will be able to participate in topic convenings and who may be candidates for Atlantic Fellows programmes in the future.

The complete network of all Atlantic Fellows programmes and the new Atlantic Institute will represent an investment of over £400 million, making it The Atlantic Philanthropies’ largest in its 35 year history.

“The Rhodes Trust is delighted to be announcing the launch of the Atlantic Institute,” said Sir John Hood, Chairman of the Rhodes Trust. “This is a significant development in the Trust’s 113-year history and allows us to advance our goal of promoting collaboration among global leaders. The Rhodes Scholarships are designed to inspire generations of talented young people to do good throughout the world.”

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