Published: 12 February 2019

$500,000 alumni gift will help more students in hardship

Long-term supporters of the University Cled Cole (BSc Chemical Engineering 1978) and Val Cole (BSc Human Biology 1978) have made a significant gift of $500,000 to support students in hardship.

Cled and Val Cole today and in their student days
Cled and Val today and in their student days

The couple are committed to ensuring higher education is available for all by providing a safety net for those students who face severe hardship due to an unexpected financial crisis, such as the loss of parental financial support.

Their gift will ensure students such as Kayleigh Cheong can continue to take advantage of all that Surrey offers.

Kayleigh’s story

At the end of her second year, biochemistry student Kayleigh had nowhere to call home and was struggling to make ends meet. It became even more difficult when she suffered a close family bereavement that meant her search for a paid PTY placement was put on hold at a time when other students were securing valuable positions.

With her family unable to assist financially, it looked like she might have to give up on her placement year altogether. This changed when she was thrown a lifeline from the Forever Surrey Fund for students in economic hardship. This enabled her to cover her living costs and focus on finding a placement that would boost her employability skills. She is now working for a company that specialises in cancer clinical trials.

“I was sofa-surfing as my student house contract had ended and my loan was running out when I received the funding – it helped me survive,” said Kayleigh. “I cannot emphasise how important it has been to my life. Without it, I would not have been able to take up my placement.”

Lifelong opportunities

Cled and Val graduated in the same year and credit their Surrey education for the lifelong opportunities it afforded. Cled was President of ExxonMobil Exploration and Upstream Ventures Ltd (Singapore) until his retirement in 2016 and is a Director on the US Friends of Surrey Board.

The couple said: “Without Surrey we would never have met. We want to ensure future generations of students have the same wonderful opportunities we did and that unexpected financial hardship does not mean the end of their Surrey experience.”

Patrick Degg, Director of Advancement, said: “We thank Cled and Val for their generous gift. It will help enormously in enabling those of our students struggling financially to complete their time here, and head out in to the world, armed with an ever more valuable Surrey degree. Each year more seem to find themselves in this situation, for reasons beyond their control, and Cled and Val’s gift will - in perpetuity - enable us to help many more of them.”

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