Selecting deserving candidates

SIFTING through 3,000 scholarship applications is no easy feat for panel members who spent this week shortlisting candidates who applied for the Star Education Fund.

The fund, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is offering 295 scholarships worth nearly RM16.1mil from 31 institutions this year.

These scholarships cover a wide range of fields and disciplines, from entry-level courses to postgraduate education and professional studies. The scholarships are all bond-free.

Monash University Malaysia and the University of Reading Malaysia are the fund’s new partners for 2018, while Penang Medical College returns as a partner.

A painstaking choice

University of Reading Malaysia head of law Prof Anne Chrishanthani Vergis said deserving students who have the ability and the aptitude to do well, but do not have the financial backing was given emphasis during the shortlisting.

“We seek dynamic and proactive students who have good characters and personalities.

“They must also have the passion to excel and be the best in what they do,” she said.

She advised students to talk about how much they want the scholarship during the interview.

She described the Star Education Fund as a “reputable foundation”.

Penang Medical College Malaysia vice president (Academic Affairs) and registrar Prof Dr David Whitford said a lucky candidate would be receiving a scholarship worth RM628,000 for a five-year medical course. “We want students who are academically well-rounded and can contribute to the college in a substantial way by taking part in research, sporting activities, medical conferences as well as being student ambassadors,” he said.

Dr Whitford added that shortlisted candidates should be prepared to answer tough questions during the interview.

“We would be asking about general problems in life, science subjects-related problems, ethical questions or advances in medicine.

“Candidates need to be well-versed in thinking through problems and thinking outside the box,” he said.

UCSI University Engineering Technology and Built Environment faculty deputy dean Dr Ang Chun Kit said the institution was not just looking for candidates who have exemplary grades, but for all-rounded students with a good attitude towards life.

“Good grades doesn’t matter if the person has a poor attitude.

“During the interview, we will want to get to know the students and how they can contribute back to society in the future,” said Dr Ang.

He added that candidates should stay humble, be honest and be willing to learn.

Dr Ang said the Star Education Fund is a good initiative that provided a platform for higher-learning institutions to help needy students who want to further their studies.

KDU University College Admissions and Bursary department senior manager David Tai Yew Keong said the varsity wants students who are genuinely interested in the programme they have applied for.

“Apart from academic performance, a candidate’s family background is also taken into consideration,” said Tai who has been shortlisting candidates for over nine years.

He advised students to be sincere during the interview and not try to hide any relevant information.

Beyond academics

Kolej Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Student Affairs deputy director Lum Pui Yee said the results and family backgrounds of each applicant were looked at during the shortlisting.

“Besides academic performance and character, we also consider students who have taken part in extra-curricular programmes or have been working part-time to support themselves financially,” said Lum. She advised candidates not to take the interview too seriously as it is just a “get to know you” session.

“Don’t panic and be yourself,” she said, adding that there have been times when some students were so worried during the interview that they didn’t know what to say.

Sunway College Johor principal and chief executive Hor Poh Choo, who noted that education is to help improve the lives of people, said shortlisted candidates should be honest during the interview.

“Do not be afraid to tell us why you want the scholarship. We also want to know how you plan to contribute back to society after graduating,” said Hor, who has been shortlisting scholarship candidates for over 10 years.

University of Nottingham Malaysia coordinator Dr Too Wei Keong said he was happy to see that the quality of the Star Education Fund’s applications the institution received have improved and increased this year.

He said the fund has helped the institution select quality candidates.

“We want candidates who know what they want, are passionate and want to make a difference in life.

“They should be honest during the interview as we will be able to call a bluff,” added Dr Too.

Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur Quality Assurance Unit director Dr Lim Hock Aun said a candidate’s family background plays the ultimate role in the decision making process.

“Academic performance is important. But we will still award those who cannot afford to pay their education fees even if they miss the mark a little,” said Dr Lim, who has been shortlisting candidates for over 10 years.

To find out if they have been selected to attend scholarship interviews, Star Education Fund manager Susanna Kuan said candidates will receive an e-mail from now till the end of May.

“Scholarship interviews will be held from the middle of this month to the end of June,” she said, advising candidates to check their e-mail.

The 31 partners-in-education are Brickfields Asia College, Equator College, Erican College, HELP University, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur, KDU University College, KDU Penang University College, Kolej Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Malaysian Institute of Art, Management & Science University, MSU College Penang, Methodist College Kuala Lumpur, Monash University Malaysia, Multimedia University, Oriental Nilam College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Penang Medical College, Quest International University Perak, Saito University College, SEGi University & Colleges, Sentral College Penang, Sunway University, Sunway College, Sunway College Ipoh, Sunway College Johor Bahru, Taylor’s University, UCSI University Trust, University of Nottingham Malaysia, University of Reading Malaysia and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.

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