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Scholarships in Singapore: A comprehensive handbook

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In Singapore, there are several Singapore scholarships offered by various entities. These entities include the government, public and private enterprises, educational institutes, and even non-profit organizations for both local and overseas educational institutes.

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of all the Singapore scholarships available and may miss out on a great opportunity to get their educational fees fully or partially sponsored or get some kind of non-monetary aid. Some of these scholarships apply to both local and foreign students, making the competition really tough.

In this article, we aim to help you familiarize yourself with the concept of scholarships in Singapore and the process of identifying and applying for the most suited ones.

So let's get started!


What is a Scholarship and why should you consider applying for it?

A scholarship is a financial aid given to students for further studies at different levels from elementary level to university.

It is granted as an award to students for:

  • their academic or sports merit,
  • for their passion for the organization’s mission, or
  • for aiding of financial needs.

The scholarship can be purely monetary or in other like-kind such as waiving of tuition or accommodation fees.

While the awardee is not required to pay back the scholarship received, they might have certain clauses that the awardee has to comply with for the support. Some examples of the clauses include maintaining a certain grade throughout the academic period, playing a certain sport (for athletic scholarship holders), or a bond stating to join a specific organization upon graduation. Reviewing and understanding these clauses is one of the most important factors to determine whether it is the right scholarship for you.    


Types of Scholarships in Singapore

A variety of scholarships are offered in Singapore catering to all types of students in different levels of their education. Here, we will list some of the institutions and the scholarships offered by them.


Singapore Government Scholarships - Ministry of Education (MOE)

The Ministry of Education (MOE) offers Singapore government scholarships to students, available from primary up to the university level.  


Edusave Awards and Government Scholarships

Through the Edusave scheme, all Singaporean students studying in MOE-funded schools receive a yearly contribution for their educational use until they complete their secondary school education.

For non-MOE-funded schools, the students receive annual contributions from 7 to 16 years of age. Apart from this, Edusave also presents awards and government scholarships to students for exhibiting outstanding qualities such as leadership, conduct, and character, as well as for learning dispositions and academic performance during the academic year.

One does not need to apply for the awards. MOE receives the details from the respective schools and provides the awards to the eligible students. These awards are given at all school levels as well as for ITE and Polytechnic.


MOE Secondary and Pre-university Scholarships

MOE offers certain programme-based scholarships to students for their exemplary performance at secondary and pre-university levels.

Some of the Singapore government scholarships are given to highly abled students to pursue a certain language such as:

  • the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) Scholarships for Chinese,
  • Regional Studies Programme (RSP) Scholarships for Malay (Special Programme), or

  • Bahasa Indonesia, National Elective Tamil Language Programme Scholarships for Tamil and Language Elective Scholarships for multiple languages.

Apart from languages, there are certain government scholarships given to outstanding students to help them pursue their studies in the field of music (Music Elective Scholarships) and arts (Art Elective Scholarships).

MOE also offers a Pre-University Scholarship for 2 years to top students who have achieved exceptional academic results and excelled in co-curricular and other activities.


ASEAN Scholarships

The ASEAN Scholarships are offered to deserving students from the ASEAN region, China, and India to study in Singapore. MOE partners with various institutes to offer different scholarships to these students.


Singapore University Scholarships

Almost all the universities in Singapore offer Singapore university scholarships to students for different courses. There are a variety of university scholarships offered to both Singaporeans as well as international students. The criteria and eligibility for each university scholarship differ and hence gives more students a chance to apply.

Some of the universities that offer Scholarships are:

These universities also have tie-ups with external bodies to provide more Singapore university scholarships to students who truly need and deserve them. 


Ministries and Statutory boards

There are a lot of government scholarships given by different Singapore Ministries and Statutory boards. They identify and recognize exceptional students who have the aptitude and inclination to contribute to the nation and its people. These scholarships are considered very prestigious and will aid the students in building their careers in the respective fields.

See below for some of these government scholarships in Singapore.


PSC Scholarship

This scholarship is offered to students who are interested in making a career in Public Service and serving the nation. There are multiple courses in different fields such as engineering, legal, medicine, teaching, and foreign service that they can choose from. Upon completion of the course, students will join either Public Administration, Professional Service, or Uniformed Service.


Public Sector Scholarships

The Singapore Government also offers scholarships to students who are keen on working for the Singapore Public Service.

The 5 sectors include:

  • Central Administration,

  • Economy Building,

  • Infrastructure & Environment,

  • Security, and

  • Social. 


President’s Scholarship

This is one of the most prestigious scholarships offered to undergraduate students in Singapore. It is given to the students who are beyond excellent in academic and co-curricular activities.  


Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) Scholarship

Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) scholarship is given to students who are all-rounders and are outstanding not only in academics but also hold a track record of leadership and service (e.g. volunteer work, social enterprise, contributions to cultural, scientific and/or academic communities, etc.). 


Private Organizations 

There are a lot of private organizations around the world that offer scholarships to talented students to help them pursue their educational dream and prove their talent. These scholarships are very industry-specific and some of them might even offer a job to the students before they complete the course.

GIC Private Limited, Parkways hospitals Singapore Pte Ltd, Singtel Group and Hitachi Asia are some of the private companies that offer Singapore scholarships in their respective industries.     

For more details on the listed MOE, Ministries & Statutory Boards, and industry scholarships above, you can refer to the MOE, Public Service Commission, and Singapore-Industry Scholarships websites. For other private scholarships, you can refer to BrightSparks and The Straits Times Scholars’ Choice.

Before you start applying for a scholarship in Singapore, it is important to explore the official site of the respective organization offering the scholarship for the most updated news.  


Comparing Scholarships

With so many scholarships available it can be rather confusing to pick and apply for the most relevant scholarship. It is also not possible to apply for all of them as each application is very time-consuming.

So how do we know which scholarship to pick? Each has a list of different requirements and we need to analyze and compare the scholarships based on these requirements.

We will list out some pointers that you must consider and evaluate when comparing these scholarships.


Eligibility for a Scholarship

Before you shortlist a scholarship, you need to check the eligibility criteria and see if you meet them.

Check for:

  • who can apply, if it is open for Singaporeans only or foreign citizens as well,

  • what educational qualifications and grades are required,

  • what non-academic activities are given weightage,

  • the field of study, and

  • the location of study.

You will also need to know the purpose of the scholarship and what the vision and goals are for the organization sponsoring the scholarship. Research is important to help make your application more meaningful and outstanding. By shortlisting scholarships that you are actually eligible to apply for, you stand a higher chance in succeeding while instead, wasting energy on the ones that you will not get.


Value of Scholarship

Every scholarship is different. Some might sponsor the course fees along with accommodation, books, and other expenses related to the course while some might just give a one-time award of a fixed amount. If the university is overseas, some scholarships may also cover travel costs. Some scholarships in Singapore may include a monthly allowance ranging from $200 to $1000.

What the scholarship has to offer is an important aspect for you to consider. Getting a scholarship that covers all of your course expenses is definitely the best but also look out for other scholarships that will cover a portion of expenses.

It is important to look out for the exclusivity clause as some of the Singapore scholarship providers do not allow their scholars to get any other scholarships along with their own. By abusing the clause, you may be banned from any other financial aid or worst, you may face legal issues. 


Time Period

In general, most scholarships in Singapore take into account the whole duration of the course. However, there may be some that only offer a one-time amount. This is an aspect to consider when shortlisting scholarships, but take note that most scholarships that provide financial aid for the entire academic duration will require scholars to maintain their grades and any other requirements stated by the scholarship provider.

You may have the choice of a full-term or mid-term scholarship. Like the names suggested, the full-term scholarship starts at the beginning of the course whereas the mid-term starts after completion of a few semesters of the course. For the mid-term scholarship, the students can apply for the scholarship between their courses, and thus offering a second chance to those who fail to get the full-term scholarship or did not consider applying earlier.   


Bond

Some of the scholarships come with a bond that requires the scholars to work with an organization for a certain duration after they graduate. This bond will determine almost 4 to 6 years of the scholars’ initial work life. This can be a big benefit and save them from the stress of looking for a job upon graduation.

However, for some, it can be a burden as they may want to keep their options open, or even consider changing their career path. Thus, while choosing a scholarship, one must carefully go through the terms and conditions stated as breaking the bond can have a lot of repercussions, both financially and career-wise. 

Looking for bond-free scholarships (generally provided by universities) will be a better idea for those not looking for any obligations.    

It’s said the more the merrier. While we encourage you to apply for as many scholarships as possible, we must also advise you to channel your efforts in the right direction. Concentrating on the right scholarships will give you more time to thoroughly fill out the application forms and prepare for the interviews. It can be competitive, so you must make sure to stay ahead of the competition by giving each scholarship application a personalized touch.


Application Process for a Scholarship

Now that you have your shortlisted scholarships with you, the next step is applying for them. Your application is the first step to impress and you must make it count. Do your research well about the scholarship and the sponsoring organization beforehand. Most of the applications will consist of multiple phases. Each phase will offer you a chance to impress and get you one step closer to the scholarship. 


Application form

Every Singapore scholarship has its own application form that will mainly require you to provide:

  • your personal details,

  • your educational qualification,

  • other additional information like awards & achievements,

  • co-curricular activities,

  • employment & internships,

  • your resume,

  • your photo, and

  • other supporting documents.

Make sure you take note of the application’s closing date and keep a few days in hand to fill out the application.      


Recommendation Letter

When you are applying for a scholarship in Singapore, you are basically selling yourself. A recommendation letter helps you in this process by vouching for the skills and qualities you claim to possess. This letter can be issued by any reliable sources such as your teachers or a supervisor during your internship.

    

Psychometric Tests, Activity-based Assessment or Essay Questions 

After your application is submitted, some scholarships might require you to take a psychometric test or complete an activity-based assignment to gauge the student's aptitude and behavioral style. This process helps the sponsors identify the strengths and weaknesses of the applicant and in a way, validate the mentioned traits in the application form. No one passes or fails a personality or psychometric test. The purpose of it aims to check if you match the requirements.

Some of the applications may also require you to answer essay-based questions. Essay-based questions are a way to evaluate your thought process and how self-aware and creative you are. Through the answers, the sponsors want to know why they should invest in you and not others. Getting an interview call is highly dependent on this phase of the process so make sure you give it your all.  


Interview

The interview is the last phase and the last hurdle you need to cross to get to the scholarship. It is also your last chance to impress the panel and bag the award. Make sure you leave no stone unturned while preparing for the interview. Present yourself with confidence and brings out your competence along with your willingness to be part of the sponsor’s organization.

For some of the Singapore scholarships, there may be 2 rounds of interviews – one after the submission of the application and one after the psychometric test or assignment (the final interview). The final interview may also be divided into multiple rounds.


The Outcome

After the final interview, the outcome may easily take 2 to 3 weeks, and in some cases, a month or two. Anxiety level will be at an all-time high while waiting. Do not get too anxious and keep preparing for the other interviews lined up, if any. Be prepared, regardless of the outcome.

If you get the scholarship, make sure to celebrate and enjoy your victory, while at the same time remember that you only won half the battle. For the other half, you must make sure to comply with all the clauses until the end date.

In case the outcome is not in your favor, you can try sending an appeal letter to the sponsoring organization and explain to them why you need the scholarship and how you can contribute to the organization or institute. You may also consider mid-term scholarships that you can apply for upon starting your course.


How To Increase Your Application Success for a Scholarship

Now that you are aware of the process, we will share with you some tips on how to increase your chances of getting the scholarship (e.g. good practices to adapt). We will also be sharing some pointers on submitting a good application and how to prepare for the interview.


Before Applying

There is a lot of preparation to make before you apply for the scholarship. Here is a list of what you should think or do before applying for any scholarship. 


Self-awareness

Before you even start researching, you need to know what you want.

List and answer these questions: 

  • What is your ultimate goal? 

  • Do you want to pursue your career in that particular field? 

  • What are your skills and how can you apply them? 

  • Do you want to study overseas or in Singapore? 

  • Will you be able to pursue your hobbies? 

All these questions will help you to discover yourself. It will also act as a guide for you to look for scholarships in the right direction. Being self-aware will also help you in the later process of writing a good scholarship application and acing your interviews.


Research your Competition

Every scholarship will have several people competing for it. You need to know your competition to beat them.

Try and research the past trends for the last 2 to 3 years:

  • how many people applied,

  • their backgrounds, and

  • how many got the scholarship.

You might not find all the details online but put in the effort to gather as much information as you can. If it is possible, seek the past scholars and speak with them to learn their strategy.


Fill the Gaps

To get a scholarship in Singapore you need to prove your worth. For ordinary students who are neither academic toppers nor a national champion or hold numerous awards, the dream of getting a scholarship is still possible. All you need is to be different and stand out.

There are many ways to do so. Here are some ideas on how you can fill the gaps in your resume to make it more solid:

  • Join a non-profit organization – School’s CAA is something everyone mentions in their resume but joining an organization outside of school will give your resume an extra kick. This will show your keen interest in contributing to society and help you get some genuine work experience.   

  • Coach Students – You can teach and coach students in the field of your expertise. It can be anything, academics, sports, computer knowledge, soft skills like public speaking, presentation skills, or writing skills etc.

  • Take up a part-time job or internship - Taking up a part-time job or working an internship will prove that you are a keen learner and use your time wisely. It will also reflect your level of commitment and learning abilities.

  • Be an entrepreneur - Use your skills to start a small business. It can be anything from selling a product to being an influencer on social media. Blogging is also a good option. It will prove your leadership skills and entrepreneur trait.


Research on All the Opportunities

You will be surprised to know that many scholarships in Singapore go unnoticed by a lot of people. Make sure you put in time to research and get a comprehensive list of scholarships. There are a lot of resources you can explore to find out about more, and more scholarships. 

Make use of the online platform and check with individual organizations if they have any available scholarships. Ask around your family and friends if they are aware of any scholarships of your interest or if they can check with the organizations they are working with. You may be lucky to spot some scholarships that are not as popular and have fewer applicants.

Either way, make sure you have your list of scholarships along with their closing date ready and handy before you start applying. 


While Applying

So you have done your research and have decided on the scholarships you want to apply for. Now let's get started with the real task.

Here are some tips that will help you when filling up an application.


Be prepared

Applying for a scholarship is a long process. You may have to fill out the application in multiple sittings. Go through the form before filling and keep all your documents, resume, reference letters, and certificates accessible.

Apply for as many scholarships as you can as this will increase your chances in securing one. Take note of their closing dates so that you will not miss out on any of them.   


Don’t be too Humble

Being humble is good but in this case, you need to upsell yourself and leave no opportunity to talk about even the smallest achievements. Mention every achievement as you never know what will catch the reviewer's eye and make you stand out. 


Be Honest and Specific

Honesty is the best policy. Do not cook up stories as one lie may be caught and lead to another. You may want to seem impressive but eventually, you may end up losing your face and spoil your reputation.

Also try to be as specific and concise as possible. Do not beat around the bush and waste the reviewer's time. They need to go through hundreds, or even thousands of applications and have a very small attention span. Keep them engaged by getting to the point.  


Give Relevant Details

Your application should reflect that you have done a good amount of research on the sponsor organization. Provide answers and examples relevant to the organization and it’s vision will help you showcase your research.


Proofread

This is your first opportunity to make an impression and the application will determine whether you will be shortlisted for the next round. Make sure that there is not a single mistake in the application.

As you take time to fill up the form, revisit each question to review and correct. Check for relevance, grammatical and spelling mistakes. Sometimes it will be difficult to find your own errors so ask for the help of your family member or friend to proofread your application.  


The Interview

You are finally near the finishing line and it is time to bring out the best version of you. For this make or break situation, you need to be well prepared.

Here are some tips and tricks that will help you ace your interview.


Practice Your Answers

Interviews can be intimidating but don’t let the pressure get on to you. The key is to be well prepared with your answers. However, there is no syllabus for an interview and you can be asked anything. So, how do you prepare for the interview?

Make a list of the generic questions that you could be asked and write down the answers. Think of a few scenarios that showcase your qualities and practice fitting them for different interview questions. Give examples of how you put your skills to use to promote yourself. 

Here are basic questions to get started:

  • Tell us about yourself.

  • How would you describe your personality?  

  • Why should we give you this scholarship?

  • What interests you about this field of study?

  • What do you know about our organization?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Describe your greatest accomplishment and your greatest failure.

  • How do you handle difficult situations? 

Once you have your thoughts together, start practicing them by saying them out loud. This will help you practice your voice modulation and pronunciation. Practice in front of your family and friends or you can record your answers to know how you sound and how you can improve in sounding more confident and convincing.       


Dress to Impress

For the interview, choose a formal attire that is clean and ironed. This will not only impress the interviewers, but will also boost your confidence. Most importantly, don’t forget to smile.


Be Dynamic and Energetic

In an interview, you are not only assessed on your knowledge but also on your personality. Be energetic and passionate when replying. Show them that this is what you want and you are a high-value candidate. Be friendly and maintain eye contact at all times. Leaving the room on a positive note will also increase your chances.    


Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to show that you are interested in learning more and being a part of the organization. However, make sure you ask smart and innovative questions and not something that you should have known beforehand. Asking irrelevant or generic questions will only show that you have not done your research well.

Asking questions will not only show your interest but will also clear your doubts. This is your chance to know more about the scholarship.


Conclusion

In Singapore, scholarships are aplenty. Identify the ones that best suit you and apply them with an open mind. Be creative and honest in your applications and try to stand out in the interview.

Getting a scholarship in Singapore will surely give your future and career a jumpstart. Good luck! 


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