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STG75m boost for Rhodes scholarship

22:13 Thu Sep 19 2013

A prestigious scholarship which has sent two Australian prime ministers, a US president and Nobel Prize winners to study at Oxford University has been given a STG75 million ($A128.28 million) donation.

The Rhodes Trust - which runs the Rhodes Scholarship program - has been given the money by the McCall MacBain Foundation.

It is the biggest gift since the famous scheme was established in 1903, the Trust said on Thursday.

Previous Rhodes Scholars include former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, and the country's newly-elected PM Tony Abbott, ex-US president Bill Clinton, former Canadian prime minister John Turner, as well as Nobel Prize winner American economist Michael Spence.

The funding includes a STG25 million grant, a further STG25 million "matched" donation to encourage more fundraising and a future STG25 million to expand the scheme to new areas.

John McCall MacBain, who established the foundation donating the funding with his wife Marcy, said receiving a Rhodes Scholarship and attending Oxford had been "among the highlights of my life".

Addressing more than 500 Rhodes Scholars at a ceremony to mark the 110th anniversary of the scholarship in Oxford, he said: "These Scholarships have been helping develop future leaders for over a century.

"With the world facing ever-increasing challenges, the need to help develop leadership skills is more important than ever. I hope that this gift will help secure them for another 100 years."

Mr McCall MacBain, who is from Canada, was the founder, president and chief executive of Trader Classified Media, a classified advertising company. He was a Rhodes Scholar in 1980 and holds a law degree from Oxford.

Rhodes Trust chairman John Hood said it was "deeply grateful" to the McCall MacBains and their foundation for the gift.