Rewarding hard work and talent: why scholarship programmes are vital in today’s rapidly changing landscape

Victor Dahdaleh

With so much uncertainty in the global economy today, giving young people every extra chance to succeed is more important than ever before. I believe passionately that the best and most hardworking students should have the opportunity to pursue higher education regardless of their life circumstances. This is where scholarship programmes can change lives, and change the world.

Huge numbers of our leading lights today started out with the aid of a scholarship.

Bill Gates, the global philanthropist and one of the world’s most influential businessmen, won a National Merit Scholarship to attend Harvard.

Former US president Bill Clinton went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship in 1968.

The list of famous figures who wouldn’t be where they are today without financial backing for their education is a long one.

I believe that in today’s world, scholarships are more than just an act of charity, they are absolutely essential.

Despite huge strides forward in opening up education to underprivileged students from around the world, access to higher education is still out of reach for far too many.

When it comes to our biggest and best institutions, hefty fees mean many of our potential future leaders just cannot get the leg up they need to develop academically and professionally.

And it’s not just domestic students who are losing out – the barriers to studying abroad at the most prestigious universities can be even greater still.

These institutions need foreign students, and not just because they need the revenue they bring, but also because they grow and develop through diversity, becoming more enriching and enlightening places to study.

After it was announced last month that visa restrictions in the UK could limit the number of overseas students, the Higher Policy Education Institute calculated this could cost the country up to £2bn per year. And on top of the disproportionate financial return, the students bring skills, ability and investment, which as the National Union of Students argues, is the ‘lifeblood’ of ‘world-renowned institutions’.

Driven by my fundamental belief in supporting talented young people, the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation funds several major scholarship programmes at top universities.

For example, our support alongside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the Chevening Scholarships at the London School of Economics (LSE) has helped to offer international awards to future leaders, influencers and decision-makers, enabling them to live and learn in the UK.

Further afield in Canada, the Foundation doubled its existing scholarship endowment at McGill University last year. McGill has been Canada’s number one ranked institution among medical-doctoral universities for 11 consecutive years.

And in Toronto, the Foundation established the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, which will provide both immediate and permanent funding to establish new Faculty positions, research initiatives, projects, and, of course, scholarships.

Today’s accelerating pace of change means the leaders of tomorrow will need to be diverse and multi-skilled. One way we can ensure that is to renew our emphasis on meritocracy and make sure we are doing all we can to give young people from all regions and social and economic backgrounds the chance to develop their talents.

At the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, that’s a belief at the very heart of what we do.

02/02/2017

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