01 January 2000


July 5, 2005
Send top scholars to local universities

IT IS interesting to note that while our politicians are encouraging us to woo the best brains from overseas to our universities ('PM's challenge to local varsities: Attract top brains'; ST, July 2), some scholarship boards which award some of the top and most sought-after scholarships are sending our best brains overseas - to Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and other universities around the world, everywhere else but the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) or Singapore Management University.

I wonder how many holders of top scholarships do their bachelor's degrees in Singapore (except for the odd President's Scholar who chooses to study medicine at the NUS Medical School)?

An applicant for an A*Star scholarship to study biomedical science will notice that there is a list of approved universities, and NUS and NTU are not even on the list.

How can Singapore expect to keep its best, when our scholarship boards are sending them overseas?

Of course, there are valid reasons why we need to send some of our scholars overseas - for example, to build bridges, establish contacts and learn from other cultures - and perhaps there may be better resources in the United States - for example, better-equipped research laboratories.

But how can we say that our local universities are good and comparable to others in the US and Britain when we don't seem to have the confidence to send our best scholars to local universities?

I think it is time for scholarship boards either to have more faith in our local universities and show it by sending some of their scholars there to study, or to just admit that we are not good enough and continue to send our top brains to Johns Hopkins, Caltech, Cornell - anywhere else but the local universities.

Joyce Tan Ziwei (Ms)

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