Hearts owner Budge targets £100m university funds goal

Edinburgh Napier principal Professor Andrea Nolan and Ann Budge. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh Napier principal Professor Andrea Nolan and Ann Budge. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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HEARTS owner Ann Budge is to help Edinburgh Napier University raise £100 million as part of a new fundraising drive.

Leaders of the Transforming Tomorrow, Together campaign said they wanted to attract additional money in a bid to boost the university’s research strengths, help students and improve facilities on campus.

Dr Budge – who grew up in Drylaw and whose leadership has transformed the fortunes of the Tynecastle side – joined Professor Andrea Nolan, Edinburgh Napier principal, and students to kick-start the project at the institution’s 
Craiglockhart campus.

Praising the campaign, which comes on top of a fund she created to help hard-up city students, Dr Budge said: “Setting up the Esther James Bursary enabled to me to acknowledge the transformative impact a university education has had on my life.

“My family ensured that financial hardship was not a barrier to my education, and I’m proud to support Edinburgh Napier today.”

Prof Nolan, who will lead the campaign alongside chairman Sir Andrew Cubie, said her 
university was “aiming high”.

“Edinburgh Napier has come a long way in a short time, and we are very proud of our achievements over the last five decades,” she said.

“Today we drive economic, social and cultural development in Scotland and beyond, but we want to do more, which is why we’ve launched a campaign to raise £100m by 2020.”

The funding bid has received an early £1m boost from prominent Hong Kong businessman Peter KK Lee, with the cash set to be invested in scholarships, mobility grants and PhD places.

Other Edinburgh Napier alumni and honorary graduates – including Scottish rugby star Chris Paterson and BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood – have also backed the campaign.

Prof Nolan hailed the fundraising effort and said investing in the university would have an impact for “generations to come”. She said: “Our graduates are highly valued by employers and our research is having impact on lives and communities locally and internationally.

“We are ambitious – for our students, our staff and the communities we serve here in Scotland and abroad.”

Chris Paterson, Scotland’s record points and caps holder, said: “I am delighted to see such an ambitious organisation launching a project like the investment campaign. I really hope it comes out on top.

“So many areas of the university will benefit in the long term so let’s hope it goes well. I am sure it will.”

Dr Budge took control of Hearts last May – after the Tynecastle side were relegated – paying a £2.5m fee that allowed the club to exit a year-long period of administration.

Earlier this month it was revealed she had successfully brokered a three-year commercial sponsorship deal worth seven figures with Save the Children and a group of anonymous funders.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com