Plans to rename an Oxford college after a Vietnamese airline owner have been dropped, according to reports.

Linacre College unveiled plans to change its name in 2021, after company Sovico Group promised a £155m donation.

The Oxford institution said it would be known as Thao College, after Sovico’s chairwoman Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. The businesswoman founded budget airline VietJet, which in 2012 hit the headlines after it staffed flights with bikini-clad attendants. 

But the plans to rename the college in honour of south east Asia’s first female billionaire, proved controversial with alumni and politicians.

Now, according to reports in The Telegraph, the college is no longer expecting to receive the multi-million pound donation.

Restrictions on outward donation - imposed by the Vietnamese government - were blamed, alumni were reportedly told earlier this month.

Linacre College and the University of Oxford have not commented on the reports.

In its annual report for the financial year 2021/22, received by the Charity Commission in January 2023, the college said it had signed a memorandum of understanding on October 31, 2021, ‘confirming plans to progress a donation totalling £155m’.

It included £100m to buy and develop a ‘major second site for the college in central Oxford’.

Plans were ‘developing with the donor’ and would be ‘reported as soon as this is possible’, the college wrote in its annual report.

In November 2021, days after the memorandum of understanding was signed with Sovico, that it would have to approach the Privy Council to ask permission to change its name to Thao College, following the first gift of £50m.

But last year, it was reported that that first donation had not been made, months after an agreed deadline at the end of June 2022.

That month - in June -  the college defended its handling of the £155m donation after concerns were raised in the House of Commons over its memorandum of understanding with Sovico, with MPs alleging close links between Ms Thao's firm and Vietnam’s communist government.

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Education minister Michelle Donelan told MPs she was ‘actively investigating’ the matter. The Department for Education later said it was reassured by the college’s due diligence, it was said.

Head of development at the college, Lisa Smårs, accepted that some had been ‘disheartened’ by news of the proposed renaming.

But she added in her letter, posted on the college’s website: “I truly think that we are doing what is right for the College.”

Ms Smårs reassured former students: “Having spent time with Madam Thao, I know that she is very supportive of us and what we represent, and that she is not in any way looking to change our spirit or values.”