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A student playing the violin, with a student holding a violin in the background

Support Autumn 2021

Announcing the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation scholarships

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We are delighted to announce a new gift of £25,000 to the RCM Scholarships Fund from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, which has been matched with another £25,000 by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Matching Fund for Scholarships and Bursaries to create total new funding of £50,000.

This inspired gift will support this vital area of the RCM’s work and encourage others to join us in our mission.

Lily Harriss, Director of Development and Alumni Engagement, spoke with Mona and Victor Dahdaleh of the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation about their gift to the Royal College of Music and their wider philanthropic work.

What motivates your philanthropy?

With so much uncertainty and flux in today’s society and the wider global economy, giving young people every extra chance to succeed is more important than ever.

At the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, we believe passionately that the most talented and hard-working students should have the opportunity to pursue higher education regardless of their life circumstances.

We are in a very fortunate position to give back, and we know that scholarship programmes can change lives and change the world. Many famous philanthropists and influential figures today would not be where they are had they not had financial backing in their education.

In these particularly challenging times, scholarships are not acts of charity; they are essential. Despite tremendous strides in opening up education to under-privileged students from around the world, limited access to higher education means many of our future leaders cannot get the leg up they need to develop academically and professionally.

While it may not yet be proven, our view is that the global pandemic has only exacerbated those opportunity gaps and made wider participation all the more difficult.

It is not just domestic students who are losing out but also international students who face many barriers to study abroad at the most prestigious universities and higher education institutions. These wonderful places of learning need students from international backgrounds as they enrich them with their diversity, skills, ability, broader world view, and the revenue they bring and the investment they attract. We believe this rich mix is the lifeblood of world-renowned institutions.

Our leaders of tomorrow, whatever their field of excellence, need to be diverse and multi-skilled. One way we can support that is to renew and restate an emphasis on meritocracy, ensuring we are giving people from all social and economic backgrounds and regions of the world the chance to develop their talents to the fullest extent.

Driven by these beliefs, the Foundation funds several major scholarship programmes at top world universities.

What are the fundamental objectives of the foundation?

As well as a clear focus on education, the Foundation's strategy extends to giving and support in making a difference to global healthcare challenges and a range of cultural and wider wellbeing initiatives.

For example, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at the University of York in Toronto provides both immediate and permanent funding to establish new faculty positions, research initiatives, projects and scholarships.

The Foundation has also supported a diverse array of culture and wellbeing programmes: from sport via The Squash Foundation; to art through pioneering and continuous funding of the Canada House Gallery on Trafalgar Square; and to music in the form of the English National Opera, amongst others. 

In what ways is music a part of your life and how did you come to give to the Royal College of Music?

Music is part of everyone’s life. Not only is it a creative outlet for people from all social and cultural backgrounds, but music therapy has become an established field in health and wellbeing such are its positive effects on people suffering with dementia, for example.

So when we were approached by Royal College of Music to fund scholarships, the programme met our key criteria and we are delighted to be a part of it. 

But moreover,the RCM readily accepted the concept of matched funding which has been at the heart of the Foundation’s approach for a number of years. Our experience is that private foundations and charities such as ours can act as catalysts for more ambitious projects involving many stakeholders, including governments, by providing initial funding that can then be matched to create long-term impact. Rather than simply providing a gift, our Foundation can provide the impetus to mobilise support from other sources to help sustain opportunity over time. 

The Victor Dahdaleh Foundation is delighted to be involved in this RCM scholarships programme and to help make a difference to students, now and well into the future. 

Find out more about scholarships at the Royal College of Music.