The Dark Horses of China’s Alumni Donation Race

The Chinese Universities Alumni Association (CUAA) announced its 2021 Chinese University Donation Ranking (based on figures from June 2021). There is no surprise that universities such as Tsinghua, Peking and Zhejiang ranked top three, with annual donations of US$2.9 b, US$1.6b and US$879m respectively. Unexpectedly, there were several “dark horses” in the race: Shantou University, Wuhan College and Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) also entered the top 30.

Shantou University is a regional university backed by Guangdong’s Provincial Government, founded in the early 80s. It has a strong affiliation with the Li Kai Shing Foundation. Shantou University received donations totaling US$ 744 million in 2021, ranking it as  No.4 on the Chinese University Donation list. This figure was nearly double the total received by Shanghai Jiaotong and Renmin University. Shantou University is the Chinese stakeholder in Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT), which was only officially established five years ago. GTIIT received US$118m in donations in 2021, ranking 29th, ahead of Xi’an Jiaotong, Chinese University of Communications, Beijing Normal University and other well-known Chinese universities.

Wuhan College (not linked to Wuhan University) was founded in 2003 by CHEN Yidan, one of the founders of TenCent, the Yidan Foundation and the Yidan Education Prize. It is, as an affiliate of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan.

In 2015 it became a private university providing undergraduate education. Wuhan College received US386m donations in 2021, ranking No.9, ahead of Nanjing University, Sun Yatsen University and Tongji University. Wuhan College continues to receive donations from TenCent’s founders and senior management, earning itself the nickname of “QQ University (QQ is the popular media owns by TenCent)”. It has also received investment from companies such as Ascendant Capital and Xiaoyang S&T Capital.

According to CUAA’s release this year, in the first half of 2021 Chinese universities received a total of US6.3b (RMB43b) in donations, while 24 universities received donations of RMB 500m (US$ 75m) or above.

CHEN Yidan – Founder of Yidan Foundation and Yidan Education Prize.

China changed its Corporate Income Tax rates in 2017 to take into account the tax deduction clause under China’s Charity Legislation, permitting a tax deduction amortized over three years. If the donation amount exceeds 12% of  total annual profit, individuals can receive tax deductions of up to 1/3rd of individual income tax paid.

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