Published: 03 December 2015

Scholarship support furthers autism research

Crucial research into how public attitudes towards autism affect young people with the disorder is being supported by the company of one of our graduates.

Qube Learning, which provides vocational qualifications, functional skills and short courses, is funding a PhD scholarship for Anna Cook, who is investigating the experiences of children with autism. This includes the level and type of bullying they face and the attitudes of their typically developing peers in mainstream and special schools.

Gavin Whichello, who graduated in 1974 with a BSc in Human and Physical Sciences and is owner and chairman of Qube Learning, said Anna’s research chimed with the company’s ethos that education should be available to all.

“As a training provider, we are committed to ensuring there are educational opportunities for all people and Anna’s PhD could lead to a better understanding of the needs of autistic children and what needs to be done to help them succeed.”

Anna, who is supervised in the School of Psychology by Professor Jane Ogden and Dr Naomi Winstone, said: “Bullying is a serious problem for children with special educational needs and research shows that it not only relates to emotional problems and school absenteeism but is also linked to problems in later life such as low self-esteem, anxiety, problems with forming relationships and even employment status.

“I hope that the study will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges autistic children face and develop methods that teachers and parents can use to change the way they are viewed and treated.”

As an experienced entrepreneur and investor, Gavin has also leant his support to the University’s crowdfunding platform, which helps enterprising ideas get off the ground.

He has donated £10,000 to the initiative which enables Surrey students and staff to raise funds by asking people to pledge small amounts of money for a particular venture or activity. Potential funders can view projects via the internet and help a worthwhile cause for as little as £5 or £10.

Gavin said: “I am really impressed by what the University is doing which will create the next generation of entrepreneurs. It’s nice to look back on your formative years and I do feel a sense of loyalty to Surrey.”

To find out more about how you could support a crowdfunding project, please visit

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