BRITISH High Commissioner to Malaysia Bruce Cleghorn said recent reports on university fee hikes in Britain would not affect Malaysians.
An AFP report last month stated that Prime Minister Tony Blair had won a crucial parliamentary vote on university fees which would allow universities in England and Wales to charge students up to £3,000 (RM20,869) a year from 2006, instead of the present £1,150 (RM7,999).
Tripling tuition fees are a core part of Blairs push to overhaul the financing of public services and funnel more funds into universities facing greater global competition.
Malaysians need not worry about that bill as it only affects British students. In fact, there has been a 34% increase in the 2003/2004 applications to study in Britain, he told StarEducation at a reception for Chevening scholars at his official residence on Tuesday.
Cleghorn said the British Chevening Scholarship scheme in Malaysia would continue although the way it is currently operated may be changed to improve overall effectiveness.
Malaysia continues to be one of the main recipients of the Chevening scholarships globally. During its 19 years in operation, 1,007 Malaysians have been given awards to study in Britain, he added.
These 1,007 Malaysians comprise 225 undergraduates, 558 on a masters or a postgraduate diploma, 99 at PhD level and 125 on short courses or research attachments, at a cost to the British Government of approximately RM45mil.
The British Chevening Scholarship scheme in Malaysia forms part of the worldwide British Chevening Scholarship programme funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Cleghorn said the 2004 programme for 50 students to study in the UK is worth £1mil (RM7.25mil).
All scholarships are fully funded and include tuition fees up to a ceiling of £14,000 (RM101,500) for MBAs air fares, a monthly living allowance and other one-off expenses.
A small number of PhD awards are reserved for exceptional candidates but the majority of scholarships are awarded at masters level. Undergraduate awards have not been offered since 2000. Scholars are required to return to live and work in Malaysia upon completing their studies.
Said Cleghorn: The impact of education lasts at least a generation as, when you educate youth and expose them to the best available, they in turn will contribute to the country and at the same time educate their children.
On our side, we get highly qualified and intelligent Malaysian students in British universities who contribute to the institutions academic excellence.
At the reception, Ashwin Jeyapalasingam and Lorett Mary Jesudoss shared their experiences studying in the UK. Ashwin who did an undergraduate information systems engineering degree at Imperial College called his time there an eye-opening experience.
I really enjoyed my time there and am planning to continue with a masters degree in management either this year or next, he said. He returned to Malaysia in 2002.
Lorett, who did a Masters in Law in Cambridge University in 2001, spent time working as an intern with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, and as a UN volunteer in Cyprus, before returning to Malaysia this year.
I will be starting work with a local law firm soon, said Jesudoss who graduated from Universiti Malaya in 1999 with a bachelors degree.
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