Here is the most helpful link that will explain what the ASEAN Scholarship is. It is probably the only link you'll need for information on the terms of scholarship. And if you still find yourself lost like a Little Bopeep sheep, (or, are just being pure lazy,) I have summarized the essential points of what the scholarship is below.
Read me first, you frogs!
Singapore Ministry of Education - ASEAN Scholarship
So. On to the main topic: What is the ASEAN Scholarship?
Well, in short, it is a scholarship for secondary school students from ASEAN to study in Singapore. (Duh) Also, it is pronounced ah-see-an and not ay-shi-en (as in asian). I have heard too many mispronunciations.
Who can apply for the scholarship?
As the name suggests, only students from ASEAN countries are eligible for the scholarship. There are three different scholarship intakes at various levels catering to various age groups.
1) Intake after completion of standard 6 (i.e. apply when 12 years old) or intake after Form 1 in Malaysia (i.e. apply when 13 years old).
- You will be sent to a secondary school for four years leading up to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O Level Examination.* (Which, incidentally, is different from the GCSE O Level Examination that is taken at most Malaysian private or international schools. I know. Confusing much? Ask Google.)
- With your O Level results, you will apply to a Junior College in Singapore. Junior College is college as known in the Malaysian context. Basically, you will undergo a pre-university education in a JC. Currently offered pre-university courses available to scholars are the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Level Examination and the International Baccalaureate. These courses span two years each.
- After completion of JC, you're free to go wherever you want next!
- If you are a Form 1 applicant, you will be repeating Secondary 1 in Singapore. Yes, you will be a year older than your classmates. No, you will not be allowed to go straight to Secondary 2. (Not unless MOE has changed their policies.)
- All in all, unless you do not manage to meet their requirements for scholars, you will be under this scholarship scheme for a total of 6 years.
2) Intake after Form 2 or Form 3 in Malaysia. (i.e. apply when 14 or 15 years old)
- You will be sent to a secondary school for two years. Similar to the points mentioned above for the Std 6/Form 1 intake, you will be taking the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O Level Examination.* After which, using your results to apply to a JC.
- After completion of JC, you are also free to go wherever you want next!
- However, for this intake, there is an additional "bridging course" that some selected scholars will have to undergo. Basically, if you are selected to be a bridging scholar, you will be undergoing two/three weeks of intensive lessons to bridge the gap of your knowledge with those of your future Singaporean peers. MOE assumes (rightly, in most Malaysian math cases) that the lower secondary syllabus back in your own country is sub-par to the one that your Singaporean friends have been subjected to during their Sec 1 and Sec 2 years. Hence why they feel the need to cram a year's math and English syllabus into your teeny heads before booting you off to rejoin society. This bridging course will take place during the December holidays prior to your first school year. Which means that if you are a Form 3 applicant, you will be booted off to more studying almost immediately after your PMR ends - which kinda sucks, in my opinion. On the bright side, many scholars I know proudly proclaim that it was during this bridging period where they had the most fun and made the closest friends.
- If you are a Form 2 applicant, you will be entering Secondary 3 in Singapore. However, I believe that bridging course will be compulsory for you. No one will care if you are an international math olympiad gold medalist or whatnot. You still have to go for bridging course. (Or so I think. I mean, if you really were an IMO gold medalist...)
- Edit: a kind anonymous person has informed me that not all form 2 -> sec 3 scholars have to go for bridging course. ;)
- Edit 2: another kind anonymous person has informed me that math bridging has been scrapped and only the English one prevails in sunny Singapore.
- If you are a Form 3 applicant, you will be repeating Secondary 3 in Singapore. Some of you may be selected to go for bridging course, and some not. It depends on how well (or badly) you do in your selection tests. Although, if you are selected for bridging course, don't feel lousy or anything. It will probably help you adjust to the Singapore education better.
- If you are a Form 4 applicant (yes, it is possible, though very very rare), you will be repeating Secondary 3 in Singapore. So you may want to think twice about applying. Effectively, it will set you back behind by two years because you will be 17 years old while your classmates are 15. Also, your Malaysian classmates would be taking their SPM the year you are taking Sec 3.
- All in all, unless you do not manage to meet their requirements for scholars, you will be under this scholarship scheme for a total of 4 years.
* This applies only to scholars who are sent to non-integrated program (IP) schools. Refer here to more information on the schooling system in Singapore. For scholars who are sent to IP schools, you will not be required to take the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O Level examination. Instead, you will be directly posted to your affiliated JC after Secondary 4. After which, you will join the same path as the non-IP scholars and take either the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Level examination or the International Baccalaureate to graduate.
3) Intake after completion of Form 5 (i.e. apply when 17 years old)
- Technically, this is a different scholarship all together. This is the ASEAN Pre-University Scholarship while the previous two were the ASEAN Secondary School Scholarship. But ah, nuances. Apart from slightly different selection tests (or so I heard), you will be subjected to the same terms and expectations as scholars who enter through the other intakes.
- You will be sent to a Junior College to take the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Level Examination. I have not heard of Pre-U scholars getting sent for the International Baccalaureate. As far as I am aware of, all scholars taking the IB were secondary school or IP scholars. I may be wrong, but it may be something you want to consider if you want to take the IB.
- After completion of JC, you are also free to go where ever you want next!
- All in all, unless you do not manage to meet their requirements for scholars, you will be under this scholarship scheme for a total of 2 years.
What will the ASEAN Scholarship Cover?
It will cover your:
- School fees
- Boarding School/ Hostel fees
- Examination fees (once for O levels and once for A levels/IB. Too bad if you did badly for those, the resitting of the papers will have to be funded from your own pockets)
- Economy class flight tickets to and fro from Singapore and back to your hometown. The website states that they only reimburse you once after the completion of your studies in Singapore. But if I remember correctly, I think they reimbursed my friends once during Sec 2, once after Sec4 and once after completion of JC. (I'm not sure. Don't come demanding a plane ticket from me when they don't give it to you during the years I mentioned they would) Why did they not reimburse me? Because I live in West Malaysia. Yes, west Malaysians get a measly S$50 flat rate reimbursement instead of a nice plane ticket. What to do? While KTM still lives, we can't complain.
- Allowance of S$2200 (Secondary) or S$2400 (JC) per year. This allowance will be banked into your account termly. But MOE is notorious for being late in banking in money and leaving poor scholars to starve.
- Settling in allowance of S$400 to buy your books, stationery, essential items like toilet rolls and a huge snuggly teddy for homesickness. Hey, back in my time, we only had a settling in allowance of S$200.
- Subsidized medical benefits. All scholars would be under the HSBC Clinicare insurance program which entitles us to S$5 dollar visits to the doctor.
Most importantly, the ASEAN Scholarship is completely bond-free! In every sense of the word! No hidden fine prints.
- As a secondary/pre-university scholar, you have an advantage with regards to the ASEAN Undergraduate scholarship. Each year, MOE will meet up with graduating JC2 scholars to brief them on the academic requirements in order to qualify automatically for the ASEAN Undergraduate scholarship. These academic requirements will be based on your A-Level or IB results you will get the following year. You must, however, obtain admission into local universities on your own.
What are Merit Scholarships?
People are often confused when they receive a letter offering them the lesser known Merit Scholarship instead of the full ASEAN Scholarship. So I hope to enlighten you folks a little about it.
The Merit Scholarship is awarded to scholars who are good, but due to various reasons did not get offered the ASEAN Scholarship. As a results, the perks of being a merit scholar are also much more diminished that if you were an ASEAN scholar.
In essence, merit scholars are entitled to study in Singapore by paying PR (permanent resident) fees instead of international student fees. It is a huge discount, especially if you enroll in expensive schools and courses. For example, an international student taking the International Baccalaureate at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) will have to pay S$850 per month, while a merit scholar will pay S$530 per month.
Apart from PR fees, merit scholars are technically on their own. You will have to find your own accommodation; there will not be any allowance, subsidized medical benefits or transport allowances.
MOE will assign merit scholars a school. But if you wish to enroll into a school of your choice, you must gain admission to the school by your own effort.
In addition, it is possible for an ASEAN scholar to have their scholarship changed to a merit scholarship midway through their scholarship tenure. This usually happens when you do not perform up to MOE's expectations (which is, to be honest, pretty lenient for secondary schools. You have to score above 20 points, twice, in order for your scholarship to be revoked.)