Former Aston University student Tony Hayward - the man at the heart of the world's worst marine oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - is stumping up £200,000 for undergraduate scholarships from low income families.
The former BP chief executive, who graduated from Aston in 1978, says his old alma mater changed his life and helped launch his career - and is now repaying the debt with a generous offer to disadvantaged students.
The 57-year-old executive is donating 100 student scholarships for Aston over a five-year period, and will chair the university's development board for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016. Mr Hayward's £200,000 will be matched by other donors, providing a £400,000 fund to help students through their university years.
The ex-BP boss, who has relaunched his career since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 and is now chief executive of Genel Energy, the largest oil producer in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, told the Post his days at Aston remained ‘very close to my heart'.
"I want to create a matching fund for student scholarships. This is targeting students from low income families who may otherwise feel that university is not for them. We do attract kids from difficult economic backgrounds, and we have one of the lowest drop-out rates of all UK universities,"he told the Post .
"We also have a high employment rate of graduates – 87 per cent of graduates get jobs which is on a par with Imperial College, Oxford and Cambridge. I come from quite an unprivileged background, I am from a family of seven kids, my parents didn't have many pennies to rub together.
"I was the first person in the family to go to university, it was a golden age of enlightenment. In those days there were 15 per cent of kids going to university, it is more like 50 per cent today.
"Aston was a life-changing experience. It created clarity in my own mind what I wanted to do. I was introduced to geology by a teacher at school and at 16, 17 years of age, I decided I didn't want to work in an office - I am still passionate about geology today.
"This will be over four or five years, I will end up putting in something like £200,000, and that is matched by other donors. It has a particular resonance at Aston and a particular resonance with myself because of my background and what Aston meant to me.
"It is very much close to my heart, I am a passionate believer in education. I had a great time at university, it is great to see the way in which the campus has developed in the past five to ten years. It has become a nice, attractive campus with parks and recreational areas.
"Being able to do something for Aston, which has been great for my own career, is an honour."
In a Q and A interview with the university, Mr Hayward said: "Aston is a great enabler of social mobility, I think you find a lot of kids who went to Aston were from state schools not from private schools.
"It's got a great track record of people becoming very employable on leaving. Aston gave me the opportunity to pursue firstly an academic, then a business career that was very different to what I would have done had I not gone.
"It was transforming in terms of the doors that it opened for me subsequently."