Finally, after many laments going back to 2010 and even 2007, the PSD scholarship scheme has been revamped. It is encouraging to hear that the government will now provide local pre-university scholarships for top SPM scoreres, and only conditional on doing well in those programs will the government provide tertiary education scholarships, either locally or abroad. It takes us one step closer towards the goal of improving our local institutions of higher learning by keeping our best students at home.
PSD scholarships shipped our best and brightest abroad where they built connections to foreign job and life opportunities; when the government found they had no jobs for these people, they released them from their bonds so that they could return to the foreign lands of milk and honey. Basically, the government invested billions of dollars in the brain drain but slowly, the government is finally coming to its senses.
What was surprising (and comforting) to learn, is that the PSD scholarship scheme has only blown out of proportion in the last ten years (see chart). It is only as "recently" as 2002 that funding for PSD scholarships has increased rapidly, and hopefully, the reverse initiated recently will be permanent. The country has grown to expect foreign scholarships for those who excel in SPM which is hardly a consistent estimator of ability and success. Ideally, we should pull the plug on mass scholarships like these and provide 50-100 scholarships to the very best who gain entry into the best universities in the world. As I said in 2007, the rest of the money should be ploughed back into our own universities so that they begin to reflect hallmarks of excellence.
Nevertheless, I am happy to hear of the changes and am optimistic the government will continue to decrease the budget it allocates to this scheme in favor of an intensive investment in our public higher education institutions.