SJI partners Cambridge to offer new scholarship

Students from St Joseph's Institution and SJI International who want to pursue further studies at Cambridge University can get some support with a new scholarship.

The SJI Foundation - a registered charity that supports Lasallian schools here and in the region - partnered the British university's Christ's College earlier this month to set up a bond-free scholarship for students.

The foundation will award up to two scholarships a year, starting next year. These are for candidates to pursue a full-time undergraduate degree at Christ's College, one of the 29 colleges of Cambridge.

The merit-based scholarships will each provide up to £20,000 (S$35,800) yearly for the duration of the course. This would partially fund the students' studies, as the yearly tuition fees for some courses can cost about £29,000. This excludes college fees and living expenses.

Applicants must have completed their International Baccalaureate diploma at SJI or SJI International in Singapore, and must apply directly to Christ's College for a place in Cambridge.

The SJI Foundation will consider applicants' intellectual ability, leadership potential and community involvement, among other factors.

Applications are open for eligible students for the academic year starting in October next year.

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

I am reassured by the academic liberty afforded by the scholarship - the fact that it is not bonded means that I would be free to choose whatever future path suits me best, be that physics research or quantitative finance, and to make full use of all the opportunities that I am sure to encounter at Cambridge.

MR ROBERT ANDREW MARTIN, a 19-year-old graduate of SJI International, who is applying for the scholarship.

Mr Leon Yee, president of the SJI Foundation, said the scholarship is expected to run for 20 years. Those applying for computer science, economics, engineering, natural sciences, management studies or law can apply for the scholarship.

The 41-year-old lawyer, an SJI alumnus who read law at Christ's College, had heard from the college's admissions team that it has been receiving more SJI students in recent years.

Even so, Mr Yee was concerned that students, including Singaporeans, were not studying at Cambridge "because of a lack of full funding and, in certain cases, they were being 'poached' by Ivy League schools who were offering a 100 per cent bond-free scholarship".

Mr Yee, who is the chairman of international law firm Duane Morris & Selvam, said that the scholarship programme will also involve mentorship by the network of alumni.

For Christ's College, the scholarship is an avenue to attract students.

The college counts among its alumni former foreign minister George Yeo, who is also an SJI old boy, and political leaders including Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Heng Swee Keat and Mr Lim Hng Kiang.

Professor Jane Stapleton, Master of Christ's College, said: "I am confident that the scholars will bring a wealth of talent to the college, and will also go on to play a full role in society and in their chosen professions.

"I am looking forward to getting to know them as they take up their places at Christ's College."

SJI International graduate Robert Andrew Martin, who is applying for the scholarship, said that even when he was a child, he knew that Cambridge was "one of the best places in the world to study science and maths".

"I am reassured by the academic liberty afforded by the scholarship - the fact that it is not bonded means that I would be free to choose whatever future path suits me best, be that physics research or quantitative finance, and to make full use of all the opportunities that I am sure to encounter at Cambridge," he said.

The 19-year-old has a place at Christ's College to study natural sciences, and is serving his national service first before enrolling next year.

Mr Yee, the chairman of the scholarship selection committee, said that he benefited from his time at SJI and Christ College.

"There is a somewhat unwritten tenet in the education I received from both these great institutions that you 'pay it forward' for the common good and positively impact the next generation," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'SJI partners Cambridge to offer new scholarship'. Print Edition | Subscribe