The Straits Times
Published on Nov 08, 2012

Today's recipients are less grateful


I FOUND the behaviour of National University of Singapore (NUS) scholarship holder Alvin Tan Jye Yee upsetting ("Sex blogger's 'crazy' act"; Oct 25).

The main reason for such increasingly common examples of boorish behaviour may have to do with changes in the selection criteria.

Some 50 years ago, there were few scholarships, and winning one was not based solely on grades.

The applicant's financial need was also an important factor.

So, most recipients were students from poor families, for whom the scholarship was a lifeline to complete their education and obtain their degree.

They were grateful for the award and were glad to serve society after their graduation.

But some 20 years ago, I was surprised to learn, while serving on the NUS scholarship committee, that an applicant's financial need was no longer considered in the awarding of a scholarship.

The needy students could apply for bursaries.

So, many scholarships were awarded to students from well-to-do families.

To some of these students, the scholarships offered were like an allowance, and they did not feel that they owed society anything.

If the scholarships had been offered to good students from poor families, the lifeline would spur them to repay the debt to society.

Wong Ming Keong (Dr)