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Aboitiz Group Gives Half a Billion Pesos to AIM

It’s reportedly the largest single cash donation ever given by a private company to a higher educational institution.
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The philanthropic arm of the Aboitiz Group has donated $10 million or more than half a billion pesos to the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to help fund the latter’s graduate studies programs on data science and business, among others, the institution announced in a press conference on May 8, Wednesday.

“This is the single largest cash donation in the history of Philippine higher education, as far as we are concerned,” said AIM president Jikyeong Kang.

The donation, which was made through the Aboitiz Foundation, will fund AIM’s initiatives under the newly renamed Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (ASITE). Established in 2017, the school offers business programs for those who wish to combine studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), and entrepreneurship. 

One of the most impactful initiatives to emerge from the donation is the establishment of the no-interest Aboitiz Student Loan Program (ASLP), which will mainly provide financial support to less cash-endowed professionals who wish to enroll in ASITE’s Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) and the Master of Science in Innovation and Business (MSIB).

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The MSDS is the first graduate school program for Data Science in the country and was only launched in March 2018 with an inaugural class of 41. The 14-month program prepares business executives with the sensibilities and technicalities of data science. In December 2018, less than a year since its launch, the program was recognized by London-based magazine Times Higher Education (THE) as the third best in Far East Asia.

Meanwhile, MSIB is the graduate degree program for scientists, engineers, and technologists who want to go into entrepreneurship. The program helps develop the next round of tech startup founders in the country.

Both programs’ tuition cost more than a million pesos.

"This gift [from the Aboitiz Group] is really about opening [ASITE] to more deserving students. AIM is not very inexpensive, and [we believe] a lot of brilliant Filipinos deserve this education in data science, innovation, and business. And with this gift from the Aboitiz, we can help them with a no-interest loan and hopefully some scholarships, as well,” newly endowed Aboitiz chair of data science professor Erika Fille Legara told Esquire Philippines.

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Legara shares the post with ASITE head professor Christopher Monterola.

According to Kang, at least $4 million of the Aboitiz Group’s donation will go to the zero-interest student loan program, which will be offered “perpetually.”

Aside from the ASLP, the donation will also fund “future facilities improvement” of ASITE. The school is home to [email protected], a “corporate laboratory” that hopes to develop innovative solutions through data science and artificial intelligence, among others, to private and public entities. AIM recently won the Technological Innovation of the Year award in the annual THE Awards Asia, which recognizes innovations made by universities in the region, because of the laboratory.

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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