LSE alumni awards for students in need

More Singaporean students who are studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) may be able to get bond-free scholarships.

This is thanks to a gala dinner held by the LSE Alumni Association of Singapore which raised $1 million at Marina Bay Sands on Saturday.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a former LSE student, was guest of honour at the event to mark the association's 40th anniversary.

Money raised will go towards scholarships for Singaporean students studying at the university.

The funds will be managed by the Singapore LSE Trust, set up in 2004 by alumni of the school. It has given out 14 scholarships so far to both undergraduates and post-graduates.

This changed last year when they were only awarded to undergraduates, as it believed there was a greater need at the undergraduate level and wanted to focus more on helping students attain their first degree.

It hopes to help more needy students with their school fees, which cost up to £15,000 (S$30,000) per year.

The group said this is the first scholarship of its kind here. Ms Jane Ittogi, who chairs the Singapore LSE Trust, said it receives about 10 to 20 applicants each year, and the recipients are mostly from students from single-parent or single-income families.

Noting that there is no cap on the number of scholarship awards given out, she said: "The key consideration is whether there are applicants who show hunger for progress and possess an extra 'ginger element' in being highly motivated to not only improve their own lot, but also that of others and society."

One example is Mr Tan Tai Kiat, a member of the LSE Alumni Association of Singapore.

The 37-year-old, the assistant director of patient support services at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, was the first recipient of the award. He earned a masters' degree in public policy and administration at LSE.

Mr Tan, who also has an economics degree from the National University of Singapore, said: "I had worked for about three years but it would be impossible to pay for my further studies, especially because the cost of living in London is very high.

"Even though this scholarship is bond-free, it has made me more bonded to the alumni group, knowing that strangers are paying for my school fees without asking for anything in return." Third-year geography with economics student Elaine Tan, 21, added: "Signing a contract which determines your career path is a major decision when you're 18, so I'm thankful that this scholarship is bond-free.

"It's only right that we give back and help out in future, because I really appreciate the goodwill of the people who supported my studies."

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