Sunday, September 17, 2006

Scholarship cut-back could be best for all

"PSA, DBS and SLA have cut back on their scholarship programmes. Is this the start of a trend as employers become more wary of bond-breakers?" So asks the Sunday Times in today's edition. The three agencies did not pin down reasons for the change, said the paper. But a PSA spokesman was quoted to say: "The number of scholarships we offer year to year varies and depends on the organisation's needs and how these needs are met by other channels such as direct recruitment."

I think that the quote is more enlightening, and enlightened, than the paper realizes. My read of the situation is this - that the agencies have awarded far more scholarships than they should have, and in so doing have directly contributed to the bond-breaking problem. Intentions were most probably good when the scholarship schemes were conceived. But honestly, how many Ivy League or Oxbridge graduates does an organization like PSA or SLA really need? Do they really need to bond tens of scholars a year?

My hope is that agencies offering undergraduate scholarships are beginning to realize that bonding large numbers of high-calibre individuals does no one any good when there is no clear understanding of how they will be employed. Unless the right challenges are found for these ambitious scholars, you will always have bond-breakers who leave in frustration. Which leaves the agency equally pissed as well. It is better to not have started the process at all.

Mr Wang has lots more to say on the issue, including answers for those who rue the reduced education funding for those who need it.

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