Scholarship Forum

I attended the scholarship forum organised by DAP yesterday, mainly because I am personally interested in education matters and also because I was curious as to what kind of things does DAP have to say about it. They managed to present some data and I actually thought that things weren’t as bad as it may seem.

You see, if we consider only the top 2% of our students as the creme de la creme, that’s about 10,000 people coming out each year. JPA only gives out 2,000 scholarships and that is spread across multiple disciplines and countries. Obviously, many people will just fall through the net. There just isn’t the budget necessary to fund everyone. Personally, I think that we should all be thankful that our government actually bothers to fund anyone at all. There are not many governments that do that.

The DAP worked out the number of places available for non-bumi to be about 1080 places. To me, that is a fair number. Things have changed a lot. In my days, we were competing for double-digit spaces. The trouble is that these places are spread over a wide number of courses and countries. If everyone wants to study medicine in the UK, there aren’t enough places obviously.

An MP mentioned that the interview process was flawed. Students were interviewed in large groups and hardly given any time to speak. I went through those in my day as well. There is nothing wrong with group interviews. It is all about group dynamics. You just need to understand how to make yourself stand out in the ‘right’ way. If you are quietly sitting at the corner waiting for your turn to talk, obviously, you are not going to get anywhere with the interviewer.

Another MP mentioned that considering someone with 12A1 as equal to a 9A1 is not right while considering someone with 12A1 and 1A2 as worse than a 9A1 is wrong. Personally, I beg to differ. I think that having a 9A1 criteria as a clear cut-off point is good. That is a perfectly quantifiable criterion. Considering someone with 1A2 as less than perfect, is also fair to eliminate those who take more subjects as a lottery to simply increase their number of As. You may not agree with the fact that 12A1 + 1A2 is worse than 9A1, but that is a crystal clear criterion. At least it isn’t subjective.

Of course, there was a fair bit of politicking at the event. However, I turned off most of that by merely closing my eyes and taking a break. The speakers spoke for about 2 hours. So, my attention span was dwindling anyway. Luckily, those which had anything to say, got to say it first.

I found it particularly interesting that a politician can make his ‘last point’ extremely lasting.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

One thought on “Scholarship Forum”

  1. The key question is what result is used to differentiate the 2%? Let say the cut off point is 9A1. If there are 7% of the students exceeding that cut off point then our exam standards are too low.

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