I REFER to the letter “Award scholarships based on overall merit” (The Star, April 11) and agree very much with the writer. I believe the RM1.24bil to be spent on the 1,500 recipients of the JPA scholarship for studies abroad is considered lavish. It is a huge budget for a relatively small number of students just to pursue a first degree.
I wonder why the Government chooses to send these high achievers to study abroad when we have our own local universities. Is the Government telling us that our higher education system is not up to mark?
The whole procedure of sending our best students to study abroad really does not make much sense. Eventually, I believe their achievements abroad will only give us a bit of publicity of where they come from but the accreditation and recognition is achieved solely by the foreign universities.
On the other hand, if the Government offers these good students the same benefits and place them in our local universities, their excellence in their individual fields will greatly enhance the image and standing of our local universities.
A better image will probably attract more international students to our country to study and the accreditation of our local universities would certainly be noticed and accepted globally.
On top of that, we would have fewer of our top scholars opting to work abroad. We notice that many scholars who have gone abroad to study will eventually choose to migrate upon completing their contract with the Government.
This is mainly because of their early exposure to the foreign world and acclimatisation to the foreign culture during their “homestay” there. Thus, these students would actually prepare themselves for a future overseas.
Secondly, to spend RM1.24bil on such a minority group is certainly “indigestible”. If I am not wrong, there were about 7,000 high achievers. I believe the Government should focus on all these students.
They should be given similar opportunities and benefits which would be a benchmark for future students to focus on entering local universities. This would diminish the prejudice parents and students have about our local universities.
I also believe the Government should increase the allocation of JPA scholarships for studies in local universities. This would certainly ease the financial burden of some parents who genuinely cannot afford to send their children for higher education.