The Tunku scholarship is back | The star
The idea of getting accepted into the University of Cambridge in the UK may seem far-fetched to most students.
But from Dr. Liana Chua’s point of view, it is still possible not only to enter, but also to obtain a scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies there – that is, if one works hard enough .
“Don’t be intimidated by all this: someone has to get into Cambridge and accept these scholarships!” said Tunku Fund Director Abdul Rahman when asked for advice from potential applicants for the Tunku Fellowship, which is now open for applications.
“But put serious work into your application. The admissions process is competitive and you must demonstrate your knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to your potential teachers and mentors,” she added in an email interview with StarEdu.
The Fund provides one scholarship each year for an academically outstanding Malaysian student to undertake research leading to a Masters or Doctorate in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge .
It was established in 2003 by the government to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the first Prime Minister, who received his undergraduate degree, honorary doctorate of laws and an honorary scholarship from the middle School. in Cambridge.
According to Chua, the Tunku Fund has supported 27 talented Malaysian graduate students since 2004.
“They have worked in different areas of the arts, humanities and social sciences on a range of topics, including counter-terrorism, affirmative action, anti-colonial nationalism, education and the economics of religion. – and it’s only been for the past few years,” she says.
“I had fun meeting current and recent academics and hearing about their experiences, aspirations and career paths – they’ve been in academia, teaching, law, political work, consulting and industry. nonprofits, among others,” she added. .
What these conversations bring home, Chua shared, is, first, how much these scholars have taken advantage of the intellectual spaces and connections offered by Cambridge, and second, how much they care about Malaysia, in which many of them returned. “They are absolute stars,” she said.
In addition to her role as Director of the Fund, Chua is Tunku Abdul Rahman University’s first lecturer in Malay Global Studies at St. Catharine’s College – her lectureship being fully funded by the Fund.
“It’s an incredibly interesting role. It’s a wonderful new bridge between Cambridge, Malaysia and the rest of maritime Southeast Asia,” she said of her appointment last year. “The college has also just launched a new fund – the Bowring Fund – which supports research on the history, geography or culture of the Malay world.
“This is open to college members of any nationality, including Malaysians. So I think we are on the right track to bring together a real small community of Malay World scholars here, which is quite exciting,” she said.
At the University of Cambridge, the “Malay world” encompasses the history, culture, literature and politics of regions where the Malay language has historically formed a lingua franca.
Besides contemporary Malaysia, this region includes Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei, with substantial and deep historical ties to Timor, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
“I am privileged to have this incredible opportunity to develop Malay Global Studies in Cambridge and the UK, and to forge more connections and collaborations with the region in which I grew up,” said the Singaporean social anthropologist. One of Chua’s priorities is to continue and expand the Fund’s work.
“I want to expand its reach, encourage talented students from all walks of life and all parts of Malaysia to apply.
“I would also like to be more of a supporting presence for Tunku scholars who are already here – for example, connecting them with former scholars or scholars, or just being there when they need advice,” she said.
A second priority is to gradually transform Cambridge into an academic center for Malay global studies that will bring students, scholars and other interested parties such as policymakers and journalists into dialogue and collaboration, she said. .
“I’m starting to set up literary talks, seminars and other events, and I’m developing opportunities for university visits with partners in the region.
“For me, it is vital that Malay World Studies presents voices, theories and analyzes from the region. There is so much important work going on in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere that academics in the North are not engaging, and this is one way to change that,” she said.
In the longer term, she intends to consolidate, or at least better connect, the teaching of Malay World Studies across the university.
“We have regional specialists scattered across different departments and faculties, but no single region-focused course or degree.
“Depending on what the higher education landscape will look like in the coming years, I would like to develop a new course or set of interdisciplinary options with Malay World Studies, or more broadly Asian Studies of the Southeast, in its heart. she shared.
For more information on the Tunku scholarship, go to: www.caths.cam.ac.uk/tunku-scholarships. The application deadline is March 31. Charis, 19, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is participating in the BRATs Young Journalist Program run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Throughout the year-long program, participants aged 14 to 22 from across the country experience the lives of journalists, contributing ideas, conducting interviews and completing writing assignments. They earn bylines, attend workshops and expand their social networks. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, visit facebook.com/niebrats.