Monday, April 5, 2010

RM1.24b scholarships to be offered to top scorers

PARIS: The government, through the Public Service Department (PSD), will offer 1,500 scholarships to top Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students under the overseas undergraduate scholarship programme, with sponsorship totalling RM1.24 billion, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, said the programme was aimed at creating quality human capital to continue spurring the country to greater heights in the future.

"The focus is on critical and priority sectors such as medical, dentistry, pharmacy and engineering," he told Malaysian journalists covering his visit here in conjunction with the 184th session of the Unesco executive board, which begins tomorrow.

He said that the sponsorship distribution would be based on four categories namely population (60 per cent), academic excellence (20 per cent), Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak (10 per cent) and the socially-disadvantaged (10 per cent).

Among the criteria for the scholarship were academic achievement, involvement in co-curriculum activities, socio-economic factor, family background and performance during interviews.

He said engineering and medical were two most popular courses among candidates, with the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand being the top countries chosen by most of the 18,844 applicants, including 10,114 who applied through the PSD.

However, Muhyiddin said, courses in the priority sectors were offered in various countries including Australia, New Zealand, India, Czech Republic and Poland as well as through twinning programmes at the Penang Medical College, Melaka Manipal Medical College and the International Medical University Malaysia.

For engineering, the countries included France, Germany and the United States, he said.

Apart from overseas sponsorship, he said, the government also gave priority to sponsoring students to pursue studies at four Malaysian research universities namely the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), with 100 sponsorships provided.

Successful applicants would receive a subsistence allowance at the rate of 50 per cent higher than the rate offered by federal scholarships to students pursuing studies locally, he said.

In view of the stiff competition, Muhyiddin said, a total of 1,900 sponsorships would be offered to top students, who were not chosen for the overseas scholarship programme, to study locally.

"The sponsorship is for the matriculation, pre-science and pre-university courses as well as for the first degree if they fulfilled the academic qualification at the preparatory stage," he said.

The cost for sponsoring 10,500 students locally was RM1.2 billion, he added.

Applications are now open through the website - Bernama

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