Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Singapore Scholarship

Want to find out more about the Singapore Scholarship being offered by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Well, check out current scholar, one of five from Malaysia, Ching Kuan Thye's write up on the scholarship at
A candidate from Malaysia will have to have completed STPM, A-Levels or UEC to be eligible for this scholarship. The scholarship will cover full tuition fees for successful applicants’ studies in the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) or Singapore Management University (SMU), while an allowance of about S$6000 will be provided for each academic year. There is no bond attached to this scholarship and all scholars are expected to return to their respective countries after graduation to contribute to the economy.
The last bit is probably the best thing to come out of it. Most students, even non-scholarship holders who graduated from NUS or NTU are required to work in Singapore for at least 3 years in exchange for "subsidised fees". The idea is obviously to seek to retain talents in the country. This scholarship however, seeks to have the scholars return to their home countries as part of "assistance to developing countries".

Application for Malaysians will be open in March 2007 after the respective results for the 'A'-Levels and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) are released. It's interesting to note that Matriculation candidates are not qualified. ;)

Other frequently asked questions are available here.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Singapore government's initiative! I sincerely hope Malaysian students would benefit from this scholarship scheme.

Anonymous said...

As what Kuan Thye said, it is very competitive, both to get the scholarship, and also to compete against the best from all around the world in Singapore. Trust the Singapore Government to select the best regardless of nationality or race. And if you are selected you can be sure you are among the best in the region.

Anonymous said...

There are reasons the Singapore government is suddenly so gung-ho on recruiting Malaysian students.

I was attending a briefing by Head of Undergraduate admission of one of the local Singapore uni here. All the 3 uni's actually worked very closely with the Singapore government on tracking the progress of Malaysian students studying in Singapore. One noticeable trend in the past 5 years is that many Malaysian students who spend their secondary education in Singapore choose not to continue further into the universities. The officers profess ignorance of these low retention rates.

Personal anecdotes includes one of my friends who won the ASEAN scholarship to study in RJC quit after only 1 month. One of them actually went back to TARC to do her A-levels. She is now currently in a top London colleges doing dentistry.

After spending 4 years here, I don't think there is anything great about Singapore universities. To be fair, Singapore U are good uni's , just not great. Using a military analogy, Singapore uni trains its students to become captains or lieutenants. If you aspire to be of the General rank, dream on. You won't get there with a Singapore uni degree.

For example, despite so much hoo-ha about how good the job market and how much so-and-so NUS, NTU , SMU grad are taking home, the fact remains that Singapore uni are training ground for 2nd tier "elites" if you will. The TOP grade banks dont' hire Singapore grads into their coveted frontline position such as investment banking, sales or trading. Most of them are "reserved" for Ivy League graduates and they said so quite openly. If you dont' believe me, try doing a statistical study on all the major league banks in Singapore and count the percentage of Singapore graduates in the frontline. At any rate, i would dare say the average would come to less than 10% in any of the MAJOR banks (Goldman, Merill, JPMorgan, Lehman, Morgan Stanley, Deustche).

So that leaves most of the SIngapore grads in the middle office and back office - doing the nitty-gritty stuff with less career growth that those in front.In case you wonder, the frontline and back office pay differ by 100% upon graduation. That is not taking into account the fat bonuses for the frontliners.

My whole point being that please do not LIONIZED Singapore higher education. It is good but that's all. If you want to have a GREAT education, the system will box you in.

Anonymous said...

Well, can't agree more. There's always multiple angles for you to look at a thing, and decide about it.

For majority Malaysian students, Singapore's a hope. Her higher education is much better than Malaysia's if you understand what i mean. Secondly it is much closer to home and relatively cheaper in the cost of living too. Thirdly, you get to mingle with a variety of international students, not just Chinese, Malays, Indians only as we have back in the country. The last point allows us to better understand the meaning of multi-culturalism and globalisation, the true meaning of competition between countries and continents, and not just a child's play like what we have in Malaysia, where the Malays can't accept the rest to work together.

We can't help lionizing Singapore can we? What do we have back home? Or do we have a home in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Not commeting on how good or bad S'pore unis are, I just want to say that from M'sia's point of view, S'pore is wooing the brains of M'sia away from home. This brain drain for M'sia can only weaken its society and industries. I know many M'sians who have studied in S'pore and are now working here, and most vowed never to return to M'sia to make a living.

Anonymous said...

It think it is a very bad generalization that top financial institutions do not hire Singapore Universities graduates. As a matter of fact, they do. Just go to the NUS Business School web and click on their top 50 performers of their recent graduates. Most of them are working in top US MNCs. With a girl i personnally know is currently working for JPmorgan. You can find her at her blog I guess there is some flaming on this comment box and the whole picture of tertiary education oppportunities for Malaysians in Singapore is totally missed. In many cases, Malaysians talented enough to be studying in Singapore are academically high flyers in such a way that they will be able to enter many UK/US unis other than Singapore Unis. It is flawed to argue that Singapore graduates are not being employed as investment bankers by the top financial institutions are there many out there who i have personnaly met. Many of them have nothing but only a local bachelor degree who are filtered out to be excellent and competent after job internships and networking.

Anonymous said...

Can you please post the link to the "top 50" students? I can't seem to find them. I want to check their profile.

Anonymous said...

anyone shortlisted for the GIC interview?? I'm currently doing my A levels and shortlisted for the interview. Am i in a disadvantaged state if compared to those who finished their pre-university studies??

coleong said...

Well, I guess everywhere is the same. When you are studying in Malaysia, you think Singapore is better. While you study in Singapore, you will think US is better. I’m not sure about the job market situation in Singapore. But, one thing for sure is that they valued each individual talent more than anything else, just like other part of the world (except Malaysia). In the bioindustry, the government has been encouraging a lot of top researchers from around the world to set up their lab. It’s no surprise that they will dominate the top position as they are more established and experienced. On the other hand, the education system in ASEAN countries are only in their infancy. It takes time to establish and evolve. To me, it doesn’t make any difference whether someone is graduating form the world’s top university or graduating from local college. If you’re good, you’re good. You’ll excel. But of course, the advantage of graduating from top college is that it gives you a good start compare to anyone else. Once in the job market, everyone is the same. It’s the competition that will filter out who is going to the top.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I cannot disagree with the notion that Singapore uni's are in much a better state than Malaysia. My whole point is not to demean Singapore uni - they do provide good education at a VERY affordable cost- I just want to put things into perspective.

If you do get a scholarship or can afford to attend universities such as the top 5 uni in UK (Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE, Warwick perhaps, but each certain universities have their specialization) or the top 20 uni in US (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke , Northwestern, UCLA, Berkeley, Rice, Carnegie, UPenn, Caltech, MIT, the Ivy Leagues and some of the very competitive liberal arts colleges) ; then by all means go. (notice I didn't include Aussie and NZ uni)

Competition in the global areana for top jobs are keen and Singapore U does not necessarily have the best brand name in the GLOBAL arena (notice I bolded it).

Do ask the writer for blog (cherrypeachgarcia) how many percentage of her collegues in Singapore office for frontline position (Investment Banking, Sales , Trading, Research) are Singapore graduate. I would bet my bottom dollar that at BEST it would only be 10%. Do Ask! (the 1t tier global banks pays at least 7K SGD per month for someone fresh out of school, for back office - 2.8K to 3.2K, middle office - 3.1K to 3.9K. Notice the huge divergence between the front and everywhere else).

Your chances for landing a frontline position are severely jeopardize if your degree wasn't issue by Cornell or Stanford. That is reality.

Of course to be fair, if you have Singapore degree, it is quite easy for you to land a middle and back office job that still pay quite decently. And without the intention to sound mean, these global banks is very unlikely to hire someone who earns their degree from Malaysia, except perhaps from Uni of Malaya. Even then, that is still a rarity.

To cap it all, if money is not a concern, and if your academic results permits, do attend the top 5 UK and top 20 US universities. If money is a concern but results are good, do come to Singapore. The degree still guarantees a decent amount of respect. Remember my earlier analogy, with a Singapore degree, a brigadier-general rank might be quite a stretch to attain, BUT a captain or lieutenant will be quite achievable. That is certainly much better than being merely a lance corporal or corporal.

Singapore uni graduates compete at the same level as the top major universities in the world for jobs but might not win as frequently as they might like. But they still compete at that level.

Anonymous said...

From what anon from Singapore said, it can be argued that elitism still exist in education. Poor people can never afford to study at many of these universities.

Anonymous said...

Yes. You can. Just have to double the hard work and get a scholarship

Anonymous said...

How many scholarships are there? How many people who is good enough for a scholarship?

Chen Chow said...

This scholarship has been in existence for some time. At least, it was there in 2004.

Anonymous said...

I'm a MFA scholar myself at NUS, and when talking to the Dean of Admissions, he once remarked that for the best students, whatever school they go typically does not have a very huge impact on them.

Schools such as MIT, Harvard have the choice of picking the best out of the bests worldwide, and students who enter these institutions are typically what's labelled conventionally as a 'success'. NUS, on the other hand, has a important objective other than academic superiority, that is, to serve the needs of the Singapore society. This is sometimes at odds with the previous objective and is something that the other top 20 unis previously mentioned by others (other than berkeley, UCLA maybe) do not have to worry about.

The thing is in NUS (I can't speak for NTU or SMU), the kind of education and experience you get often depends on your own attitude and also your own initiative, which is probrably why graduates of varying quality are produced. If you lay back and lie low, chances are you will never be noticed (out of the 20000 students) and that'd be the end of you. However, if you do take the first step to reaching out, you'll find that a sizeable number of the academic staff are extremely capable and caring and will go all out to help you. The hitch, of course, is that you 'find' them and seek their aid.

To the 2007 MFA scholar hopefuls, I wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

"Anon Thu Jan 04, 10:15:40 PM: anyone shortlisted for the GIC interview??"

Yes, someone (a Malaysian who just completed the Nov-Dec 2006 A-levels exam) will be attending a GIC scholarship interview next week.

Anonymous said...

I guess a lot of people commenting on this blog put too much credit on the "brand" or "name" of the university. Almost always, leading companies of various industries, be it finance or manufacturing, hire people base on how good they are. The companies have sophisticated filtering process such as through their interviews, internships and networks. Yes i do agree that graduates from stanford or wharton seems to be getting most of the high paying and cushy jobs in the finance sector. But bare in mind that the reason is plainly because most of their students are very good in the first place and these universities are well connected to the industries' leaders. There also many outstanding students who are unable to get a scholarship or pay for their tuition to these schools. However, local universities do provide them excellent education and opportunities to jobs in the leading companies and banks. That is what the MFA scholar is trying point out when he say that local unis provide excellent education and the school a student enters have little impact on their outcome. To put things into perspective. If i am going to switch the cohort between Wharton and NUS Business. The proportion of Wharton grads making it to the leading banks and companies will decrease dramitically and the NUS grads getting the cushy jobs will increase drastically. The "brand" that is being talked about gives only an idea of the kind of grads a company can expect and does little else in improving his employability to the discerning and thorough screening process of the leading companies and banks. Therefore being a grad of a local University does not lessen his chance in competing in the global arena. To the guy who could not find the link he wants. This is the link to the honour roll of the high fliers of NUS Biz 2006 cohort. Considering that each NUS biz cohort is only slightly more than 300. This is very good performance. Secondly, if you read the blog carefully, you can find that most of the writer's colleagues are other asians like Thais and Japs who studied in their local varsity.

Anonymous said...

another good reason to join NUS is the opportunity to take part in their student exchange program where you pay the same program fee to a ( for eg. ) top NUS-partner US university ( unthinkable by US fees stds. ) The exchange prog. adds international flavours to the academic experience which employers value.


Anonymous said...

to their credit.. NUS gives many opportunities to their students for personal development-- bringing in international students (scholarships/exchange programs), NUS overseas colleges (you get to spend a year overseas working/studying), exchange programs, many post graduate programs with partner universities.. etc etc.. the opportunities are there and they make an effort to keep it a vibrant the students the exposure they need while still serving the country's needs. the rest is up to the students themselves..if you do it right..nus will definately get you those first interviews.. the rest is really up to you.

H J Angus said...

Let me share my experience of Singapore education as 4 of my children completed their education there.

We moved to JB in 1987 and at the time my eldest daughter was in Darjah 4.

I don't remember how we made the decision to send our children to study in Singapore; perhaps it was the scores of yellow school buses that jam the Causeway each day or perhaps it was the influence of my brother-in-law who moved to study in Singapore once the BM scheme was introduced in the 70s.

For about 2 years I coached my daughter in Maths and she managed to gain direct entry into Form 1 after completing Darjah 6 at the SIGS in JB. At the time, SIGS was really old and ramshackle without the new blocks.

My second daughter studied at Convent in JB for 1 year and tranferred to Qihua School in Woodlands for year 2. It was a brand new neighbourhood school and she had a very good record there to become the first GEP scholar from the school.

She joined RGS in secondary school but we did not really push her to excel and she found the course "so so".

My third daughter also studied at Qihua and she did her secondary schooling at Convent HIJ.

My fourth child also did Qihua and then did his sec school in ACS.

The first two children completed JC and studied at NUS and NTU.

The third did JC and then went to IMU in KL.

The fourth was admitted to JC but returned to JB to complete A levels at Crescendo. He is now in King's College doing law.

I would give this advice for those who want to try the Singapore system.

Your child needs to stay close to the Causeway or he/she may have to start travelling at 4:30am if you take the school bus.

Car-pooling may allow a start perhaps an hour later but the cost is S$20 per day plus toll charges.

Most neighbourhood schools can provide a good education to enable your child to complete O levels.

Save one year by doing A levels in Malaysia to prepare for studies overseas other than Singapore.

Be prepared that your child may not want to return t Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Local Singapore grads take up all the back office positions in top international banks. anonymous at 1/05/2007 01:17:00 AM is right.

Front office positions are few and far between and the foreign grads from top overseas schools, now in rapidly increasing numbers vie for these positions. It's already very competitive for them. The local grads can forget about it.

Anonymous said...

Don't be fooled by a few NUS promoters in this thread, who hope to promote NUS by giving you one-sided views of their schools.

Indeed, graduates of NUS business schools can land themselves jobs in major local banks, some even foreign banks like UBS but they are all in the back office.

NUS has long tried to position itself as a 'world class' university and a few years ago, launched a campaign on TV in Singapore showing a caucasian girl apparently in the US feeling very elated about receiving an acceptance letter from NUS.

This campaign was later lambasted by the Singaporean public, with many blogs and forums mocking it and saying that it was too much of a contrived joke. Contrary to the bad press, Singaporeans are a self-aware lot.

You can read some of the comments by SIngaporeans here.