Over a 28-year period, links between Oxford and Hong Kong were strengthened by a pioneering scholarship programme at Wadham College established by Hong Kong business leader Dr Lee Shau Kee.
The Lee Shau Kee Scholarships, which ran from 1979 to 2006, allowed 100 of Hong Kong’s most talented students to pursue an undergraduate degree at Oxford. For a generation, the Scholarships were an aspiration for the city’s top academic achievers and encouraged countless students to consider an Oxford education.
The Scholars were nominated according to academic merit. Many were among the College’s strongest students, and nearly half achieved Firsts. Many Scholars have gone on to leading roles in the business, legal and engineering professions in Hong Kong and around the world and are now in a position to give something back to the University.
Wadham's Warden, Ken Macdonald QC commented: "Whenever I have spoken to our former LSK Scholars, they have conveyed a great sense of pride to be amongst such a fine cohort, as well as enormous gratitude to Dr Lee for providing them with academic opportunities which would have otherwise remained nothing more than a dream. This inspirational collaboration, with so many Scholars coming together to support their College, is a moving demonstration of just what a difference these Scholarships made to a hundred remarkably talented young people. Wadham is proud and delighted to have been able to educate them.”
After initial discussions with Wadham representatives in 2011, a small group of alumni volunteers began a fundraising campaign in 2012 which has inspired many of their fellow Scholars to become involved.
The Lee Shau Kee Scholarships provided an unparalleled education at Oxford and changed our lives
“The Lee Shau Kee Scholarships provided an unparalleled education at Oxford and changed our lives. When the opportunity came up to name a room at Wadham to commemorate Dr Lee Shau Kee and the 28-year history of the scholarship programme, we jumped on it and supported it with full force,” said Charles Cheng, who came to Wadham in the first year of the Scholarship in 1979 to read Engineering, and who is now Managing Director of the Century Group in Hong Kong. “A couple of us came up with the initial gift and then we got the approval of the College to move ahead with this campaign. We called, we talked, we emailed our friends and urged them to join this campaign.”
The group decided on funding a new seminar room, named after their benefactor, in the recently refurbished South Range at Wadham. To date, 50 former Scholars have donated or pledged to the campaign, raising over £200,000 towards the Lee Shau Kee Scholars Seminar Room, and donations are still coming in. A board listing all the donors’ names now hangs proudly in the room, illustrating the inspirational team effort which made the wonderful idea a reality. According to Charles Cheng: “We are very pleased about the overwhelming support by the Scholars with 50% participation, a new record at Wadham. This campaign also helped many of us to reconnect with each other across the continents in Asia Pacific, Europe and Americas, and helped to re-establish our bonds and remind us of the fond memories of our college lives.”
During the 1970s and 1980s, studying at Oxford was only a dream for many students from Hong Kong, but Dr Lee turned this dream into a reality
“During the 1970s and 1980s, studying at Oxford was only a dream for many students from Hong Kong, but Dr Lee turned this dream into a reality,” said Victor Lee, who read Engineering at Wadham from 1993, and who is now Managing Director at J P Morgan Asset Management in Hong Kong.
"The Seminar Room campaign is a wonderful opportunity for the Scholars to recognise the great contributions of Dr Lee.”
The Lee Shau Kee Scholars Seminar Room has created a much needed learning space for the whole academic community at Wadham. Furthermore, the room is a lasting tribute to Dr Lee’s generosity and vision at the College, and a reminder of how giving can inspire others.
“We are deeply grateful to Dr Lee for his time, his vision and his generosity to select each of us for such a great education experience in Oxford,” said Victor Lee. “For me personally, if there was no LSK Scholarship, my life would be totally different.”
Full details of the Lee Shau Kee appeal will appear in the University of Oxford Campaign Report to be published later this October, 2013.