Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oxford college may take name of Vietnam’s ‘bikini airline’

Oxford college may take name of Vietnam’s ‘bikini airline’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, President and CEO of Vietnamese airline carrier Vietjet, speaks during press conference on November 10. AFP

Oxford college may take name of Vietnam’s ‘bikini airline’

A graduate college at Oxford University could be renamed after a Vietnamese billionaire whose budget airline staffed its inaugural flights with bikini-clad air hostesses.

Linacre College said this week it would change its name to Thao College, after a “transformative donation” of £155 million ($211 million) from the SOVICO group, headed by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao.

The money will fund a new graduate centre and scholarships, as well as support the day-to-day running of the college, which was founded in 1962.

“After receiving the first donation of £50 million, we will approach the Privy Council to ask for permission to change our name from Linacre College to Thao College in recognition of this landmark gift,” it said Monday.

Thao, 51, who has a net worth of $2.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine, owns Vietjet, and also has interests in banking and leisure.

Vietjet stormed onto Vietnam’s airline sector in 2011 but has raised eyebrows with its scantily clad flight attendants and racy marketing campaigns featuring near-naked models.

Linacre College was named after Thomas Linacre, a 15th-century humanist and former physician to king Henry VIII, and is currently home to some 500 students.

It is one of the 39 financially independent and self-governing colleges that make up Oxford University, whose history dates back to the 11th century.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Thao as saying she believed Oxford was “the right place” to fulfil her “long-term desire to contribute to humanity through education, training and research”.

“By donating to Linacre College, we hope to make significant contributions to enrich Oxford’s traditions and reputation,” she added.

But the potential name change has received a mixed reception, with some academics suggesting gratitude for the donation could have been expressed in another way.

This would not be the first time that an Oxbridge college has changed its name to reflect the generosity of a donor, but the others have been more modern institutions.

Cambridge’s New Hall announced in 2011 that it was changing its name to Murray Edwards College after a £30 million donation from software millionaires Ros and Steve Edwards. The name also honours the college’s founder Dame Rosemary Murray.

Oxford’s Rewley House graduate college became Kellogg College in 1992, named after its original benefactor, the foundation set up by the cereals pioneer Will Keith Kellogg.

Also at Oxford, Manchester College for mature students became Harris Manchester College in 1996 after a “generous benefaction” from businessman Lord Harris of Peckham.


  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the