Should scholarships go to wealthy kids?

Should scholarships go to wealthy kids?

When I applied for a scholarship to go overseas for my university studies in 1971, I gamed the system.

I looked at past records of which particular course had the most number of scholars and picked it to increase my chances of success.

It wasn't a difficult decision to make.

Ninety per cent of Colombo Plan scholarships were given for engineering, so the choices were really between areas of specialisation.

There were more successful candidates who selected mechanical engineering. So that was how I decided, and graduated with the degree three years later.

Getting the scholarship was the only way I could get an overseas education, and the course didn't really matter to me as long as I got my studies funded. It wasn't the ideal way to decide one's career but, back in the 1970s, that was how most of us did it.

I didn't practise engineering on my return because I wasn't really interested, and was posted to the Economic Development Board and subsequently the Administrative Service to do policy work.

Many of my contemporaries followed a similar career path.

You could say there wasn't much diversity among scholarship recipients then - we came mainly from poor and lower middle class families, and mostly did engineering.

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BRANDINSIDER

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