Improved support for postgrads

CPF, higher stipends for S'poreans in autonomous unis

Ms Tamisha Tan (left) and Dr Florence Kok are among the first scholarship recipients under the new Singapore Teaching and Academic Research Talent Scheme.
Ms Tamisha Tan (left) and Dr Florence Kok are among the first scholarship recipients under the new Singapore Teaching and Academic Research Talent Scheme.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Singaporean students pursuing graduate studies by research in the five autonomous universities here will receive an increase in monthly stipends from this month, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

They will also receive Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions from their universities.

These enhancements aim to grow the Singapore core in the academic scene here, and lower the opportunity cost for those who choose to pursue postgraduate research, said Mr Heng. He added that the Education Ministry hopes to better support aspiring academics and the research talent pool.

The enhancements will benefit about 1,000 students in all. Master's students, who previously received a monthly stipend of $1,500, will now get another $1,000. PhD students, who used to draw a stipend of between $2,500 and $3,300, will get $200 more.

Previously, postgraduate students who were not bonded to their universities did not receive CPF contributions. But the enhancements mean they will now get a 17 per cent CPF contribution monthly from their universities.

"We do this in recognition of the importance and contributions of academics and researchers to our society," said Mr Heng, who was speaking at the inaugural award ceremony of the Singapore Teaching and Academic Research Talent Scheme.

Launched in February, the scheme provides students interested in academic research with scholarships that will sponsor their undergraduate and postgraduate studies at top universities such as Stanford and Cambridge.

They are expected to serve out a bond at their local universities once they complete their PhD and postdoctoral programmes.

A total of 19 students received the first scholarships under the scheme yesterday.

Among them was Ms Tamisha Tan, 19, who is headed for Cambridge to study linguistics.

The former Hwa Chong Institution student said she had always been intrigued by languages and wanted to study them in depth.

"I've always wanted to pursue my passion in linguistics, but I didn't know how or where to start. So I was really excited when I found out about this scholarship," she said.

Both her parents are academics at the National Institute of Institution. "They talk to me a lot about it, so I know the hard work that goes into the job," she said.

Fellow scholarship recipient Florence Kok, 25, who will go to University College London to pursue a PhD in orthodontics, said: "This career pathway offers a good mix of research, teaching and clinical work at the same time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Improved support for postgrads'. Print Edition | Subscribe