Business Insider Edition

The richest man in Hong Kong just pledged to cover 5 years of tuition for an entire university class, and it's going to cost him more than R1 billion

Taylor Nicole Rogers , Business Insider US
 Jun 19, 2019, 08:30 PM
Li Ka-Shing served as the honorary president of Shantou University before stepping down in June 2018, according to the Associated Press.
VCG / Contributor

  • Li Ka-Shing, the richest man in Hong Kong, announced on June 16 that his foundation will cover the entire cost of the tuition for Shantou University's incoming class for up to five years.
  • The pledge will cost him 100 million Chinese yuan a year, according to the BBC – which comes to R1 billion over five years.
  • Li's announcement comes a month after American billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the Morehouse College class of 2019's student loans and a year after The Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone began paying the tuition of every student at a New York medical school.
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa's homepage for more stories.

Shantou University's incoming class won't have to pay a cent in tuition thanks to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing.

The Li Ka-Shing Foundation announced June 16 that it will cover the class' tuition for up to five years as a part of an ongoing initiative to make higher education more accessible in China.

According to the BBC that pledge will cost 100 million Chinese yuan a year, or well over R200 million a year – for a total donation of more than R1 billion in fees to be paid.

Sometimes called "Superman," the 90-year-old billionaire has a net worth of $30.4 billion (around R440 billion), according to Forbes, making him the wealthiest man in Hong Kong. Li, who was born in China but moved to Hong Kong in 1940 to escape a Japanese invasion, began his career as a factory worker. He built his fortune as a real-estate developer and major investor in port operator and cell phone carrier CK Hutchison Holdings. Li retired from the conglomerate in May 2018, but still serves as a senior advisor.

This is not the first time Li has worked with Shantou University. He served as the school's honorary president before passing the torch to his son Richard Li Tzar Kai in June 2018. The school currently has 10,056 undergraduates, who are each charged the equivalent of R125,000 for tuition according to its website.

"The Foundation hopes this scheme can alleviate financial burdens for families and encourage the pursuit of personal interests and further learning to better prepare graduates for the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy," the Li Ka Shing Foundation said in a statement.

Li's announcement comes a month after American billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the student loans of all 400 members of Morehouse College's class of 2019. Last year, The Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone pledged to pay the tuition of every student at New York University's medical school.

See also: An American billionaire speaking at a degree ceremony announced he would pay off the student debt of all 400 graduates – worth R580 million

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