Forrest gives $65m gift to WA
Generous: Andrew and Nicola Forrest. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola have made what is believed to be Australia's biggest philanthropic donation - $65 million to attract the world's best minds to WA.

The money will establish the $50 million Forrest Foundation to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at all of WA's five universities.

The other $15 million will go towards building a "creative living space for rising research stars" to rival the best residential colleges in the world.

It will be called Forrest Hall and affiliated with St George's College at the University of WA.

The gift will launch a $400 million UWA fundraising campaign tonight at a dinner to be attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Premier Colin Barnett and Governor Malcolm McCusker.

Mr Forrest said the foundation's focus would be to attract the brightest minds and most productive intellects to the State.

The Fortescue Metals chief said he hoped it would lead to "an ongoing rollout of success".

"When academic excellence is added to any economy, the benefits are returned manyfold," Mr Forrest said. "This is our dream. The foundation is our strategy to achieve this dream."

Mr Forrest also hoped the gift would help change the Australian culture that viewed philanthropy as unusual. "Rather, we would like Australians to encourage and expect such acts from people fortunate enough to be able to afford them," he said.

The foundation, inspired by the successful Rhodes and Gates Cambridge scholarships, will be administered by UWA.

Mr Forrest, who has an economics degree from UWA, said there was a growing movement for Australians to invest in their country and its young people.

"We've had great admiration for universities worldwide and, having visited so many, we believe UWA is an excellent example of what our universities can grow to," he said.

It had beautiful grounds, the rare privilege of great weather, a beautiful environment, social harmony and friendly people.

"It all demonstrates the potential of our State to teach and attract the most productive local and international minds for the betterment of Australia," he said.

Mr Forrest said only education was the key to eliminate poverty and raise the universal standard of living.

Mrs Forrest said the couple wanted to give where it would make a difference.

UWA chancellor Michael Chaney said the extraordinary gift echoed the foresight of Sir John Winthrop Hackett, who founded the university 100 years ago with £425,000 ($37.7 million today) "to advance the prosperity and welfare of the people" of WA.

It was a great example of the philanthropic leadership needed if WA was to have universities everyone aspired to and develop global research partnerships.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West