Four M’sians win STEM scholarships

Women in science: Loh (left) and Nurimanina Najwa are among the successful candidates who will be pursuing their master’s degrees in the UK.

FOUR Malaysians have won the prestigious British Council global Women in STEM scholarships.

Having been selected from a rigorous process involving thousands of applicants, they will be pursuing their master’s degrees at universities in the United Kingdom which are among the world’s leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, the British Council said in a press release on Sept 3.

The recipients are Debbie Ann Loh and Jaiswarry Sundaram, who will be pursuing MSc International Public Health and MSc Industrial Biotechnology, respectively, at Liverpool John Moores University; Nurimanina Najwa Shahrin, who will be pursuing MSc Aquatic Pathobiology at the University of Stirling; and Ilyana Hassya Azmannizam, who will be pursuing MSc Earth Futures: Environments, Communities, Relationships at the University of Glasgow.

They will be travelling to the UK in autumn this year with full financial support including tuition fees, stipend, travel costs, visa and health coverage fees through the scholarship, along with special support for mothers and for those who need English language training.

Across East Asia, 15 scholarships were awarded to women from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Many of the winners, the British Council said, will be pursuing their academic ambitions in STEM at a UK university for the first time.

“We are delighted to be able to support the career development of women in science through these scholarships, which support closer educational collaboration and exchange between the UK and Malaysia.

“We sincerely hope that it will prove to be a pivotal moment in the careers of these women and open doors to many opportunities in the future.

“We also believe these women will act as role models to the next generation of female scientists,” said British Council Malaysia director Jazreel Goh.

The scholarship programme aims to increase opportunities in STEM for girls and women, as according to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the British Council said, there are fewer than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide who are women and only 30 per cent of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.

Nurimanina Najwa said too many Malaysian girls and women are held back by biases, social norms and expectations that are influenced by gender stereotypes.

“They are particularly under-represented in STEM education and careers.

“I want to motivate young girls, regardless of race or religion, to explore typically male-dominated fields,” she said.

Loh said she’s grateful to the British Council for providing her with this opportunity, as she hopes to inspire and encourage more Malaysian girls and women to boldly pursue their ambitions and passions, and create impact through STEM.

The fully-funded postgraduate scholarship programme, launched globally by the British Council in partnership with 19 UK universities, is aimed at benefiting women from South Asia, South-East Asia and the Americas who aspire to access the UK’s STEM courses but lack the financial resources to do so.

The British Council said the scholarship is awarded to women with backgrounds in STEM, who could demonstrate their need for financial support, and who wish to inspire future generations of women to pursue careers in STEM.

The second round of the Women in STEM scholarship programme for 2021-2022 will continue this year.

“Opportunities will be available to students from eight countries: Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“Further information for potential candidates will be available on the British Council’s website soon,” it said.

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