Undergraduate Focus: Top scholarships for high achievers
In Malaysia, there is a wide range of scholarships that are available for qualified students. Some may only offer funding for academic fees but some offer full scholarships, which also cover living expenses.
For many school leavers the decision to continue studying depends very much on their financial situation. Undeniably, public institutions of higher learning offer good courses with affordable prices but places are limited, and so, many are forced to look for opportunities elsewhere.
Unfortunately, private and overseas options are a tad too costly to pursue without any external funding. This is where scholarships come into the picture.
In Malaysia, there is a wide range of scholarships that are available for qualified students. Some may only offer funding for academic fees but some offer full scholarships, which also cover living expenses.
There are eight scholarships in particular that stand out and seem to be popular choices among students: Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), Securities Commission (SC), UEM Group Berhad and Sime Darby.
Below is a brief look at these top eight scholarships.
Securities Commission Malaysia
The statutory body responsible for regulating and developing Malaysia’s capital markets, the Securities Commission’s main objective is to make sure that the securities and futures market are always fair, efficient, secure and transparent. It also helps the local market develop itself, both innovatively and competitively.
The SC offers two scholarships: a pre-degree scholarship, which sends its recipients to any local university to undergo pre-university programmes, and a tertiary scholarship, where scholars will pursue degrees in reputable universities, either locally or overseas.
Who should apply: Most scholarships prioritise students who have outstanding academic records. The SC is no different. Hopefuls need to have a minimum of 9As in the SPM 2011 examinations if they wish to apply for the pre-degree scholarship or at least 3As and 1B+ for STPM, 3As for A-Levels or a CGPA of at least 3.5 for diploma or matriculation if they wish to apply for the tertiary level scholarship.
Good interpersonal and leadership skills and being active in co-curriculum and sports are added advantages, and the SC also puts an importance in being able to speak and write well in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Short listed applicants will be called in for an interview and a series of other assessment processes. Successful applicants will ultimately receive funding for full academic fees, books, living allowance, subsistence and other miscellaneous allowances.
Fields of Study: Being a financial institution, the SC naturally awards its scholarships in the same field. One of the courses that the SC gives scholarships to is investment banking, a field that deals with the ins and outs of corporate finance.
Since the government liberalised the Malaysian banking industry and made way for foreign banks to open more branches here, job opportunities have expanded, which means that graduates of this field will have an easy time trying to find jobs.
SC scholars should not have any trouble here as they will be expected to serve under the commission for a stipulated period once they complete their education.
Besides investment banking, the SC’s scholarships are also open to those who are interested in studying accounting, business administration, economics, finance, international business, Islamic finance and banking and law.
Deadline: The SC scholarships are currently open for application until 3 Apr. However, applicants are only allowed to create login IDs until 1 Apr, so interested parties should send in their applications as soon as possible.
To apply for the scholarships or to get more information, visit: www.sc.com.my
Bank Negara Malaysia
A statutory body wholly-owned by the Malaysian government, Bank Negara Malaysia’s various roles include conducting monetary policy, stabilising the financial system, issuing currency, managing the country’s reserves and being a banker and adviser to the government.
BNM offers scholarships in two different levels. The first is a pre-university scholarship that awards recipients with funding for pre-u courses such as the Cambridge A-Levels, the American Foundation Programme and the South Australian Matriculation.
For recipients of this particular scholarship, BNM may extend its offer to include funding at the bachelor’s degree level, provided the student manages to fulfil the criteria set by the bank.
The second scholarship level is an undergraduate (honours) scholarship that offers aids both for local and overseas programmes of study.
Who should apply: Students with good academic records who are interested in pursuing careers in finance are encouraged to apply for these scholarships. BNM prioritises outstanding students, not just in the academic front, but also in terms of extra-curricular activities. Another important criterion is that the applicant should have a good command of both written and spoken English.
SPM leavers who wish to apply for the pre-university scholarship should have passed the SPM 2011 examinations with at least 8As (consisting of A+ and A only) and should not be more than 19 years of age on 1 July.
Those who are interested in the undergraduate scholarship should fulfil these academic requirements:
• STPM/A-Levels : Obtained at least
2As and 1B
• Diploma/Matriculation: Obtained a
CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point
Average) of at least 3.50
• Australian Matriculation: Obtained
a TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) of
at least 85 per cent
• American Foundation Programme:
Obtained a score of at least 1200
for the SAT1
• Degree: Obtained a CGPA of at
least 3.50 for the latest
Scholarship recipients will be bonded to BNM upon graduation; for each year of scholarship, students will be bonded for two years. On average, scholars usually have to serve under BNM for eight to 10 years.
Fields of Study: BNM’s scholarships are awarded mostly in the financial field. A particularly interesting course that BNM offers its scholarships to is Islamic Finance.
There has been a growing interest in this field in recent years. In recognition of this fact, the government launched the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) as part of an initiative to establish Malaysia as an international Islamic Finance hub.
The career opportunities for graduates in this field are excellent. Most graduates will enter the banking industry and work in the Islamic arm of banks. BNM scholars will find themselves working under the Islamic Finance arm of BNM as part of their bond.
Besides Islamic Finance, Bank Negara also offers scholarships in economics, accounting, actuarial science, banking and finance, financial engineering, law, syariah and mathematics.
Deadline: The Undergraduate Scholarship closed its applications on 20 Mar, but SPM leavers can still apply for the pre-university scholarship which is open for eight days after SPM results. This means that the deadline is tomorrow. All applications are online, so there is still time.
To apply for the scholarship, or to get more information on the Bank Negara Scholarships, go to www.bnm.gov.my.
Sime Darby Berhad
A multinational corporation based in Malaysia, Sime Darby was originally known for its plantations. The company is now also involved in property, motors, industrial equipment and energy and utilities. Sime Darby has also started spreading its influence over the private healthcare industry.
In 1982, Sime Darby set up its trust entity, Yayasan Sime Darby, which works closely with the group to disburse its funds in five key areas of concern: community development, youth, sports and recreation, education, arts and culture, and environment and protection of ecosystems. This is the body that handles Sime Darby’s scholarships and ensures that they are given out fairly and indiscriminately.
This year, Sime Darby is offering three scholarships under its Excellence category: The Local Undergraduate Scholarship Programme, China Pre-University Scholarship Programme and China Undergraduate Scholarship Programme.
Who should apply: The scholarships are open to high-flyers and well-rounded students. Specific requirements can be found on its website, but the scholarships are open to SPM leavers, STPM leavers and equivalent as well as those who are currently pursuing their degrees in selected institutions. For those interested in applying to study in China, proficiency in Mandarin is an added advantage.
Fields of Study: For its China scholarships, the fields of study are limited to business and engineering. Local scholarship recipients can also take science courses: agriculture, food technology, plantations technology, plantation management and biotechnology.
Sime Darby scholars are bonded to the company, but career possibilities outside of that are endless, since the scope involves so many different fields at once.
Deadline: All three scholarships are still open for applications. The China undergraduate scholarship closes on the 31 Mar whilst the other two will close on 20 Apr.
To apply for the scholarships or for more information, visit: www.yayasansimedarby.com
Tenaga Nasional Berhad
Malaysia’s largest utility company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s core business is generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. TNB also has subsidiaries that conduct other activities, such as the manufacturing of transformers, switchgears and cables.
TNB also owns University Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), a university that combines academic education and technical skills under one roof.
Under its trust body, Yayasan Tenaga Nasional (YTN), TNB provides financial assistance to deserving students in terms of scholarships and study loans. The foundation was established in 1993, and to date it has sponsored more than 8,820 students to study both locally and abroad.
YTN is currently offering two scholarships: the Overseas Universities Programme and the Universiti Tenaga Nasional Programme. The former gives the opportunity for both SPM and STPM leavers to pursue their education overseas whilst the latter is only offered to SPM leavers to study at UNITEN.
Who should apply: TNB is looking for applicants who have just received their SPM and STPM results. SPM leavers must not be more than 19 years of age whilst STPM leavers must not be more than 21 years old this year. TNB scholars are students who are active in co-curricular activities and have strong leadership qualities. Those with excellent results are prioritised – TNB only considers students who have obtained all As in subjects related to their chosen field of study.
Fields of Study: The scholarships offered by TNB are limited to the fields that are connected to TNB’s business activities. Naturally, the main field is engineering, specifically electrical power engineering.
With the growing demand for electrical power engineers, graduates from this field would have no trouble getting jobs in practically every branch of industry and commerce. Of course, TNB scholars will be bonded to the company for a few years, depending on the course they take.
TNB also offers scholarships in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, accounting, electrical and electronic engineering, computer science, information technology, and finance and business studies.
Deadline: Both scholarships offered by TNB are open for applications until 28 Mar. Interested applicants may apply online at yayasan.tnb.com.my/sam
Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam
The Public Service Department of Malaysia, Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam’s main role is to plan, develop and manage human resources. The JPA basically develops policies, strategies and manages public agencies and human resources.
JPA offers two main scholarships for undergraduates: Program Ijazah Luar Negara (PILN), a scholarship that sends excellent students overseas to pursue their first degree, and Program Ijazah Dalam Negara (PIDN), which is offered to students who received offers from public universities once the Unit Pusat Universiti (UPU) application results have been announced.
Prior to this year, JPA offered the PILN scholarship to SPM students. However, an announcement was made last year that their policies may change and that the scholarship may only be offered at the pre-university level, instead of SPM.
As of today, there is still no news regarding their decision. They are still in deliberations over this issue and estimates that a formal announcement may be made by the PM in the near future.
Who should apply: JPA scholars are generally well-rounded individuals, students who not only maintain excellent academic results (stringent requirements means that applicants should score at least A- in subjects related to their chosen field) but also make it a point to be active in co-curricular activities.
Fields of Study: Previously, JPA offered its PILN scholarships in a wide range of disciplines to an equally wide range of study locations. Among the courses offered were: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, education, engineering, actuarial science, accounting, ICT, Islamic economy, banking and finance, pure sciences, professional arts and arts.
PIDN scholarships were offered to courses which were grouped into four categories:
• Critical: medicine, dentistry and pharmacy
• Priority: pure science, forestry science, allied health sciences, environmental management science, agricultural science, biotechnology, information technology, and science and technology.
• Professional: veterinary science, law, architecture, actuarial science, quantity surveying, land surveying, urban and regional planning, and accounting
• Others: Arts – international relations, Islamic studies, political science and economics
Deadline: Formal announcements have yet to be made on the status of the PILN scholarships. Students can expect the PIDN applications to be open around the time that the UPU results are announced.
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Malaysia‘s leading integrated communications company Telekom Malaysia (TM) is a government-linked company that provides communications, information and entertainment services to the public.
TM also strives to involve itself in education and research and has played a big part in contributing to the development of the communications super highway and the Multimedia Super Corridor. In 1997, TM set up the Multimedia University (MMU), a well-known institution of higher learning.
In 1994, TM established Yayasan TM, a trust body that handles TM’s scholarship allocations as well as its numerous community programmes. Under Yayasan TM, the company disburses several scholarships to deserving students:
• Overseas Preparation Scholarship
• Pre-university Scholarship at
• Diploma Scholarship at Multimedia
• First Degree Scholarships at
Multimedia University and Local
Who should apply: TM looks for students with outstanding academic achievements who are also active in co-curricular activities. The Overseas Preparation Scholarship and Pre-University Scholarship at MMU are only open to SPM students. The Diploma Scholarship at MMU is open to SPM students and those who have already commenced studies at the university. The First Degree Scholarship at MMU and local public universities are open to candidates with diploma, matriculation, MMU Alpha, STPM and other relevant qualifications.
After the closing date, applicants who are short listed will be called for an assessment programme, after which a second short listing will be conducted. Successful candidates will then be called in for an interview before final selections are made.
TM scholars are required to serve under TM or any of its subsidiaries for a stipulated amount of time once their studies are completed. If a scholar fails to comply with the contract, he is required to reimburse the full amount as funded by TM.
Fields of Study: TM’s scholarships are offered in three main fields: engineering, IT and management. The courses being offered are business administration, economics, marketing, finance, accounting, software, computer science, multimedia, communication engineering, electronic engineering, electrical engineering and telecommunication engineering.
Deadline: The scholarships opened for applications on 26 Mar. Applicants have around two weeks to send in their applications before it closes.
Interested parties may apply online at ytm.tm.com.my
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad (one of the Malaysian Government’s investment arms), UEM is Malaysia’s top engineering conglomerate. UEM focuses on four core businesses: expressways, township and property development, engineering and construction and asset and facility management.
Under its non-profit group, Yayasan UEM, the company receives and administers funds for education, scientific research and charities. The foundation acts as UEM’s corporate social responsibility arm, carrying out its social welfare activities.
UEM offers two scholarships yearly: The UEM Overseas Scholarship Programme, where recipients will undergo a pre-university programme at Kolej Yayasan UEM and then continue their studies at reputable universities overseas, and the UEM Local Scholarship Programme, where recipients are funded for their studies at local universities.
Who should apply: Students who are highly proficient in both spoken and written English and possess excellent co-curricular and academic records are welcome to apply.
UEM looks for outstanding students in order to produce elite scholars who would ultimately create a supply of quality manpower as well as future leaders of the country. SPM 2011 students should have at least 7As in relevant subjects in the examinations.
Successful applicants will receive funding for full academic fees, various allowances (subject to course taken) and a return air ticket (for overseas scholars only).
Scholars who are funded for overseas studies will be bonded with UEM for five years while local scholars will be bonded for three years. Throughout the scholarship programme and the bonded period scholars will receive leadership training and take part in development activities and job attachments within the UEM Group of Companies.
Fields of Study: UEM offers scholarships in several fields:
• Business, specifically in finance,
business management and
• Built environment, especially in
quantity surveying, town planning,
land surveying, building services
and building management.
• Engineering, specifically in civil or
• Arts and social science, specifically
in corporate communications and
international relations, psychology
Deadline: The UEM Overseas Scholarship opened its online applications on 25 Mar for 10 days. The deadline will be on 3 Apr. The Local Scholarship will only be open for applications in September.
SPM 2011 students who are interested in the Overseas Scholarship Programme may apply through www.uem.com.my
Majlis Amanah Rakyat
An agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) is responsible for encouraging and facilitating social and economic development in rural areas. Its main objective is to provide assistance to Bumiputeras to participate in any commercial and entrepreneurial activities.
MARA offers two scholarships to Bumiputeras only: for Overseas Programmes (PILN) and Local Programmes (PIDN).
Who should apply: As with all scholarships, MARA prioritises good, well-rounded students. In previous years, the scholarships were only offered to SPM students who obtained at least A- in the subjects related to their chosen fields of study.
Fields of Study: Last year, MARA offered its PILN scholarships for the following courses: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, education, engineering, actuarial science, accounting, ICT, Islamic economy, banking and finance, pure sciences, professional arts and arts.
Deadline: MARA’s PILN scholarship is still under deliberation, and no formal announcements have been made yet. Those who are interested in the PIDN scholarships can start applying as soon as it opens after the UPU application results are announced, estimated to be some time in June. For more information, visit: www.mara.gov.my
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There are a number of scholarships available for students other than these eight. While they may not offer huge amounts of funding or send their scholars overseas, they are still helpful for students who are unable to finance their own education fully.
Applying for a scholarship may be a tedious process, but research and perseverance are essential for success.