University of Bath receives £1M endowment and gift for academic post in Education

The generous donation from Hong Kong-based Yew Chung Education Foundation honours collaboration with Emeritus Professor Jeff Thompson.

The University of Bath is delighted to announce a £1 million endowed donation and £55,000 gift from the Yew Chung Education Foundation to fund an academic post in the University’s Department of Education.

The endowment is intended to provide a permanent source of income to fund the post, which is given in honour of Emeritus Professor Jeff Thompson CBE, in recognition of his and Dr Betty Chan Po-King’s long-standing shared interests and collaboration in International Education. The new academic post will be named ’The Yew Chung Jeff Thompson Lectureship/Senior Lectureship’.

Professor Ian White, the University of Bath’s Vice-Chancellor and President, said: "We are tremendously grateful for this transformational pledge of £1,055,000 to support this wonderful new post in honour of Professor Jeff Thompson and our relationship with the Yew Chung Education Foundation.

"It is testament to the quality of Professor Thompson’s research and to the enormous contribution he has made to the development of International Education over the years. We are delighted that this gift will continue to support this work and help foster Hong Kong and UK Relations."

Dr Betty Chan is Chairperson of the non-profit Yew Chung Education Foundation and its Higher Education arm, the Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education. She is also CEO of the extensive network of Yew Chung and Yew Wah international schools, which are known for their distinctive bilingual and co-cultural (East and West) educational approach and leadership model, serving over 10,000 children across more than 20 locations in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Silicon Valley (USA). They also operate The Somerset Cultural Centre at Knowle Hall in Bridgwater, Somerset, bringing together the best of the East and West, beyond language immersion and cultural exchange. The first Yew Chung School was first founded in Hong Kong in 1932 by Dr Chan’s late mother, Madam Tsang Chor-hang, and it has now grown into a unique ecosystem of progressive education from Early Childhood to Bachelor’s Degrees, with Postgraduate programmes in the pipeline.

In 2015, Dr Chan was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Bath in recognition of her distinguished career developing and promoting Early Childhood Education and International Education, with the emphasis on supporting greater understanding between the East and the West and between those of different cultural backgrounds.

Speaking at a formal signing ceremony held at the University, Dr Chan said: "Pioneering a new approach to education is never easy, as one inevitably challenges the existing paradigms, and it can be a lonely journey. I feel incredibly blessed to know Jeff as a dear colleague and friend - his world-class scholarship speaks for itself, but it is his deep passion and enduring commitment to promoting progressive International Education that has revolutionized the field, and given educators like myself a voice on the global stage, as well as a like-minded community.

"Upon Jeff’s gracious invitation, I had the honour of being the first Chinese and first person of Asian descent to address The Alliance for International Education (AIE) back in 2004 in Dusseldorf, Germany. This ground-breaking opportunity probably meant more to me than Jeff had realized, as it enabled my team and I to clearly articulate our unique educational philosophy and pedagogy to an international audience, and the overwhelmingly positive response was beyond our expectations. It gave us the confidence and strength to continue in our journey, and the rest is history.

"This gift simply reflects our wish to honour Jeff as a giant in the field of International Education, and to ensure that his tremendous academic legacy at Bath remains ever-vibrant and essential. Needless to say, the naming of this new academic post is specifically intended to celebrate our multi-decade friendship, and long may it continue to flourish!"

In 2014 Professor Thompson received an honorary degree from Bath , to celebrate his contribution to both national and International Education, including the development of the International Baccalaureate, and the leadership and mentorship he has provided over many years to educators around the world.

He said: "I am delighted with this wonderful award from the Yew Chung Education Foundation, which is testament to the collaboration we - and colleagues from both our organisations - have shared for many years. I look forward to the continuing strengthening of our shared endeavours in International Education that this generous gift will help to support in future."