1. What is the most common misunderstanding among parents and children when they send in their applications for a scholarship?
The most common misunderstanding among parents and students is that academic excellence will guarantee them scholarship. The fact is that scholarships are a privilege provided by the government rather than a right by the very fact that many excellent students have to compete for a limited number of scholarships. The facts speak for themselves – the number students obtaining straights As in the SPM is increasing each year. Whereas in 2006 it was 5,685 students, this year it has risen to 6,247 students. Out of this number, 1,704 had scored 1 A1s for all their subjects. The government has limited resources and it is impossible for the government to offer all students a scholarship to study overseas purely based on their academic results.
For the Foreign Degree Programme, the criteria for selection are:
1. Academic excellence (70%)
2. Interview (10%)
3. Socio-economic background of parents (10%)
4. Co-curriculum (10%)
2. Has the number of scholarships offered always been 2,000. If not how many were offered before? When was it increased to 2,000 and are there plans for more scholarships?
The statistics on the number of scholarships offered are as shown in the table below:
Two thousand (2,000) scholarships are being offered this year for studies overseas and the number offered each year is based on the government’s financial capability.
3. Interview process — Who are the interviewers? How are they selected? What are the measures put in by JPA to ensure that the interview process is fair?
The interviewers for the Foreign Degree Programme are government officers, who have been selected by the JPA top management based on their experience, communication and interpersonal skills. They are given thorough guidelines and briefings to ensure that the interviews are conducted in an objective, professional and impartial manner.
4. There are allegations among the non-Malay parents and students that Malay students are prioritized. Is there a quota for the different races?
The selection of students for the JPA scholarships are equitable between Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra students as reflected in the scholarships awarded this year. One thousand and one hundred (1,100) Bumiputra students and 900 non-Bumiputra students have been awarded JPA scholarships to study overseas this year.
5. Can we get some statistics on who were awarded JPA scholarships in the previous years to show that the selection process is fair? Or can we get some comments from your boss on this issue?
The question is not clear and we are not sure what information is being sought.
6. Some students have the attitude that it is their God-given right or reward for working hard in school to get a JPA scholarship. Can we get a statement on that?
Scholarships are subject to the ability of the government to provide the funding and, as with any finite resource, there is stiff competition. Those awarded will be the ‘top of the cream’.
7. What is the advice to students who had failed in their scholarship application?
They should keep in mind that JPA also offers scholarships for studies locally at both the diploma and first degree level. This year, we will be offering 10,000 scholarships under the Local Degree Programme and the details and online application will be made available on our website in late June 2008. JPA will also be offering scholarships to SPM 2007 students who have obtained 9As and above to further their studies locally – beginning from Form 6 right up to university in a course recognised by the government. Applications can be made online in early June 2008.
8. What is the reminder to students who are sitting for their SPM and STPM examinations this year?
Students have to ensure that the field they select matches their academic results as stipulated for each field. For example, students who are applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science will not be successful if they do not have the required science subjects of Chemistry, Biology and Physics, even though they may have scored 12As for the SPM. Similarly, students applying for Accountancy must have at least an A2 for Principles of Accounts to be considered.
9. Can I get an official explanation on how the minimum academic criteria is changed by the number of straight A students who apply (for example, if for the year, there are too many applicants with 10As, then that pushes the minimum grade requirement higher as there are only 2000 scholarships available)
For critical courses such as medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, students with greater number of straight 1As will secure a better chance of being awarded a scholarship as opposed to those with lower scores.
The above are answers to questions on Public Service Department (PSD) Scholarships submitted by The Star on 15 May 2008. The feedback is given by the PSD at their website.