The vision – Overview

We’re looking for students with vision

We may not know what the future holds, but we do know it will need a new breed of adaptive, passionate and committed leaders. Leaders who will need a well-rounded set of skills and values.

Our diverse and challenging learning programme aims to help today’s exceptional undergraduates develop the right blend of knowledge and experience to fulfil their true potential in whatever career they choose.

Lord Laidlaw

Lord Laidlaw

Patron of Laidlaw Scholars

The long-term vision for the Laidlaw Scholarship is to create a wide-reaching and diverse international network of leaders who will reinvest their skills, knowledge and experience to help students, peers and colleagues.

Leading the way 

The Laidlaw Scholarship owes both its name and existence to Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay. It was his vision and unswerving commitment to student development that led to the founding of this unique programme. Following a £9 million investment into the Laidlaw Library at the University of Leeds, where Lord Laidlaw was an undergraduate in the 1960s, the university became the first to deliver the Laidlaw Scholarship in 2014. Since then it has gone from strength to strength.

About Lord Laidlaw

"Over the last twenty years I have journeyed through many routes and countries before knowing enough to create and implement giving that works. I measure all my giving on whether it generates a long term difference for the recipient. What matters is whether the client’s life has been changed by their participation in our programmes.While this programme hasn’t been existence long enough to quantify results, subjectively the answer is an overwhelming yes. All the Scholars are enthusiastic about what they learnt in their research programmes, and about how they can use skills acquired from the Leadership Development programme both now and in the future. All those who travelled have been enthusiastic on how their international experience have contributed to their development. I am proud of all the Scholars and what they have achieved.”

The son of a mill-owner, Lord Laidlaw was born in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland. He first attended Merchiston Castle School followed by Leeds University and New York City’s Columbia Business School.

After graduating from Columbia Business School, Lord Laidlaw purchased a small US publishing company and turned it into the Institute for International Research, making it the world’s largest conference and trade show organiser. Lord Laidlaw’s current business ventures include developing wind farms and other renewable energy project, laying fibre optic cable, and developing homes in the UK and Spain.

In 2015 Lord Laidlaw was interviewed regarding his contributions to Columbia Business School’s scholarships and opportunities which can be read on their website. In another interview, with Leeds University, Lord Laidlaw gives an insight into his motivations and reflections regarding his support of education:

"I came from a quite privileged background and at that time Leeds was very much a working class university. As Grants and Welfare Secretary for the students’ union I was able to help people who were facing serious money issues – and I found out about deprivation in a way I’d not experienced before. This experience showed me how privileged I was and it stayed with me. I have been very fortunate; my business has been a great success, but success is not just about talent or ability. It’s also about encouragement, whether from the family, school or University, and we need to do more to nurture people’s ability."

Laidlaw Schools Trust

Established on the 24th May 2012, Lord Laidlaw is the founder and a Trustee of The Laidlaw Schools Trust. The Department for Education approved the Trust as a multi-academy sponsor. The mission of the Schools Trust is to work in partnership with children, their families and the wider community, by providing a safe and nurturing environment for each child, irrespective of ability or background. They aim to empower children to believe in themselves and to embrace the future as active, respectful and responsible citizens. You can find out more about the Laidlaw Schools Trust by visiting their website

The Lord Irvine A.S. Laidlaw ’65 Scholarship at Columbia Business School

The Lord Irvine A.S. Laidlaw ’65 Scholarship at Columbia Business School provides crucial financial assistance to over one hundred full-time female MBA students each year, giving them access to an unparalleled business education. Due to Lord Laidlaw’s incredible generosity, the School has increased the average amount of financial aid offered to women by a dramatic 200 percent. Not only has this enabled more prospective female students to make their enrollment decision free from financial constraints, but it has also increased the number of women who choose to matriculate to Columbia’s MBA program.

To date, nearly 300 women have received the Lord Irvine A.S. Laidlaw ’65 Scholarship and joined this community of high-potential, extraordinary young people who have benefitted from Lord Laidlaw’s philanthropy. Laidlaw Scholars come from over 20 countries, and have comprised about 10 percent of each graduating class since the scholarship’s inception in 2015. Columbia Business School remains grateful to Lord Laidlaw for establishing this important and transformative initiative.

Gaining momentum worldwide

The scholarship aims to become an international indicator of exceptional academic and leadership talent. Its reputation is spreading around the world and a network of world-class universities including Leeds, St Andrews, Oxford, Durham, University College London, York, Columbia College of Columbia University, Tufts, Hong Kong and Trinity College Dublin is now delivering the programme.

Read about the eligibility requirements and see what it takes to become a Laidlaw Scholar

Where is the Laidlaw Scholarship available?

Our partner universities form a close network of research intensive institutions, who are passionate about equipping students with the skills to become leaders in their field of choice.

Find out more