NTU alumni start fund for needy students

Nexia TS group CEO Henry Tan says the trio started the fund to help needy students who could not afford to go for overseas exchange programmes or internships.
Worldwide Hotels chief executive Carolyn Choo says education is a cause close to her family's heart. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CAROLYN CHOO
Worldwide Hotels chief executive Carolyn Choo says education is a cause close to her family's heart. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CAROLYN CHOO, NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY
Nexia TS group CEO Henry Tan says the trio started the fund to help needy students who could not afford to go for overseas exchange programmes or internships. PHOTO: NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

Three accomplished alumni of Nanyang Business School (NBS) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have come together to donate $250,000 to start a fund to give needy students the chance to go for overseas exchange programmes or internships.

Ms Carolyn Choo, chief executive of Worldwide Hotels; Mr Danny Yong, founding partner of hedge fund firm Dymon Asia Capital; and Mr Henry Tan, group CEO of accounting firm Nexia TS, established the NBS Equal Opportunity Fund in April.

Ms Choo, 42, and Mr Yong, 47, gave $100,000 each. Mr Tan, 55, donated $50,000.

Mr Tan said the trio, who are all alumni advisory board members of NBS, started the fund as there were needy students who gave up overseas exchange programmes or internships as they could not afford them.

The father of two said: "We thought of starting a fund to create equal opportunities for everyone."

Ms Choo's father, Mr Choo Chong Ngen, is the billionaire founder of budget hotel chain Hotel 81 and is among Singapore's richest men.

Ms Choo, who has three children, said education is a cause close to her family's heart. Mr Choo, one of seven children, had to drop out of primary school as his father, who was a construction worker, could not afford to pay his school fees.

Mr Choo's lack of education is one of his biggest regrets and he has been supporting educational causes, said Ms Choo, who is the only daughter in a family of four children. However, the $100,000 donation for the NBS Equal Opportunity Fund is from her own pocket.

Another 29 donors gave close to $40,000 to the fund.

NTU is one of Singapore's most successful fund-raisers, collecting $50 million in donations in the financial year ended in March last year. It has an endowment fund of $1.9 billion.

The size of reserves held by local universities, such as the National University of Singapore, was in the news recently. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament recently that the Education Ministry does not put a cap on the size of the universities' endowment funds and their endowments are not "excessively large" compared with those of international universities.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2019, with the headline NTU alumni start fund for needy students. Subscribe