Queen's Scholarship



The Queen’s Scholarship was an annual education scheme introduced by the colonial government in 1885 to enable promising students in Singapore and Malaya to enrol at a British university.1 It was the colony’s most prestigious academic prize until it was replaced in 1959 by the Singapore State Scholarships (known today as President’s Scholarship).2 Throughout its existence, the scholarship fostered enthusiasm for education among the locals, and produced numerous distinguished alumni.3

Foundation, cancellation and restoration
The Higher Scholarships (as they were called until 1890) were first proposed in October 1884 by Colonial Secretary and Acting Governor Cecil Clementi Smith.4 The objectives of the scholarship scheme were to enable promising students to complete their studies in Britain, before returning to assume a professional career.5

Furthermore, the prospect of being able to study overseas was to encourage schooling children to stay in school. This was a major step as there were no opportunities for students to acquire a professional education at the time, and few parents could afford sending their children abroad for further education.6 The first examination to qualify for the scholarship was held the following year, in 1885.7

However, the scheme soon faced criticism because it was felt that the scholarship was not only fostering intense competition and anxiety among students and parents, but also absorbing a disproportionate share of both of teachers’ energies and colonial funds for an elite few.8 In fact, it took $30,000 annually to maintain the scholarship. There were also fears of India’s experience, where the newly-created educated class would question the colonial status quo. As a result, the scholarship was suspended in 1911.9

However, due to the efforts of educators and former scholars such as Lim Boon Keng, Song Ong Siang and Noel Clarke, as well as support from the public, the scholarship was restored in 1924.10 Following the restoration, the scholarship was opened to both genders.11 Prior to that, it was only for boys.12 In 1930, Maggie Tan became the first female recipient.13

Particulars of the scheme
Selection process
Scholars were selected through a competitive examination. The first examination was held in 1885. It was set by local scholars led by Archdeacon Thomas Meredith.14 No candidates were able to attain the required standard of merit. From 1886, the examination was set by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). The first recipients were awarded in 1886, and they were Charles Angus and James Aitken who went on to study Engineering and Law respectively. Angus would later return to join the Perak Government, while Aitken would go on to set up a law firm with Song Ong Siang, a Queen’s Scholar in 1888.15


After 1923, the pair of Queen’s scholars were chosen from the top five candidates, and other factors like character and personality of the candidates were also taken into consideration in the final selection.16 From 1940, the selection of the scholars was taken over by a Board of Selection appointed by the Senate of the Raffles College, and new requirements were added.17 For example, the candidates had to be graduates of Raffles College or King Edward VII College of Medicine (both of which would combine to form the University of Malaya in 1949).18 In the same year, an annual two-year Queen’s Fellowship was also introduced to enable graduates of between five and ten years’ standing to undertake further study, though not necessarily a degree course.19

Value and conditions
Scholarships initially covered return steamer fare, and paid £200 each year for four years (later a maximum of six and still later, three). From 1927, the amount awarded would vary between £150 and £500 a year. But, students would normally receive the maximum amount.20

During the initial decade after the scholarship was introduced, most scholars studied in London or Edinburgh. From 1896 to 1910, Cambridge and Dublin were added to the list of approved learning institutions.21 After the scholarship was restored in 1924, Oxford and other varsities like Birmingham and Durham were added.22 In 1951 scholarships and fellowships became tenable for an approved course of study at any foreign university.23

Post-colonial replacements
After Singapore attained self-rule in 1959, the Queen’s Scholarships were replaced with Singapore State Scholarships which was only tenable at the University of Malaya, and was worth $2,500 a year. The recipients were selected based on merit and were obliged to serve a five to eight-year bond for the civil service. In 1964, the Singapore State Scholarship was renamed the Yang di Pertuan Negara Scholarship. In a bid to make it the most prestigious award available, it was made tenable anywhere.24 After Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent nation, the Yang di Pertuan Negara Scholarship was renamed the President’s Scholarship in 1966.25


Impact 
There was evidence that implementing the Queen’s Scholarship was able to keep students longer in school.26 In fact, enrolment beyond Standard VII (equivalent to today’s Secondary two) fell sharply in 1911 after the scholarship was suspended.27 Further, one headmaster estimated in 1923 that for each scholar chosen, 40 to 50 other students had stayed in school who would have otherwise left.28 In addition to the scholarship’s impact on school enrolment, it was seen to have induced a healthy form of competition among schools in the Straits Settlements.29


For returning scholars, the civil service was not an option as the senior positions were reserved for the British. Nonetheless, they still ended up as respectable doctors, lawyers and teachers. On top of that, many of them became leaders of their community, and served as legislative councillors, municipal councillors and Justice of Peace alongside other wealthy merchants. Their examples were an important development in the Colony as they encouraged the locals to accept the Western form of education for professional success. In addition, the public anticipation of the annual announcement of new scholars led many wealthy parents to send their children to British universities and schools. This resulted in the rise of a new English-educated elite, that eventually help to facilitate the modernisation of the local Asian communities in Singapore and the Straits Settlements.30

Notable recipients
Scholars from Singapore
1887: Lim Boon Keng, first Straits Chinese medical doctor, community leader, philanthropist, president of Amoy University.
1888: Song Ong Siang, first Straits Chinese barrister and knight, historian.31
1889: C. M. Philips, principal of Raffles College.32 
1904: Noel Clarke, Eurasian Association president, legislative councillor.33
1904 (FMS): Chan Sze Jin, lawyer, legislative councillor.34
1908: Tun Leong Kew Yoh, Governor of Malacca.35
1924: Tan Ah Tan , Singapore’s first local Puisne Judge in the High Court.36
1929: Tan Thoon Lip, Singapore’s first local Registrar of the Singapore Supreme Court.37
1930: Maggie Tan, first female to win the Queen's Scholarship.
1935:
Ahmad Mohammed Ibrahim, state advocate general who drafted Singapore pre-1965 constitution, and served as Attorney-General and an Ambassador.38

1937: Ismail bin Mohammed Ali, first Malay Governor of Bank Negara.39
1937 (FMS): Lim Chong Eu, served as Chief Minister of Penang.40
1938: Lim Kok Ann, University of Singapore’s youngest professor, later its Dean of Medicine.41
1940: Maurice Baker, educator, ambassador, pro-chancellor.42
1946: E. W. Barker, Speaker of Parliament, Minister for Law, National Development, Environment, Labour.43
1947: Kwa Geok Choo, co-founder, Lee and Lee; leading conveyancing lawyer; wife of the future prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.44
1955: Hwang Peng Yuan, Economic Development Board chairman, Temasek Holdings vice chairman, ambassador.45
1955: Wong Lin Ken, first Singaporean Ambassador to the US and the UN, Home Affairs Minister, historian.46
1957: Lim Pin, Vice Chancellor, National University of Singapore.47

Fellows
1940: Benjamin Sheares, leading obstetrician, second President of Singapore.48
1941: Kenneth M. Byrne, first PAP Minister for Labour and Law.49
1954: Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, leading pathologist; Dean of Medicine, University of Singapore.50



Author

Duncan Sutherland



References
1. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
2. Fernandez, W. (2001). Without fear or favour: 50 years of the Public Service Commission. Singapore: Times Media for the Public Service Commission, pp. 80–81. (Call no.: RSING q352.63095957 FER)
3. Turnbull, C. M. (1977). A history of Singapore, 1819–1975. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 129. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
4. Legislative council. (1884, October 25). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 10; The Queen's scholars since 1885 in Malaya. (1948, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
6. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
7. Legislative council. (1884, October 25). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 10; The Queen's scholars since 1885 in Malaya. (1948, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 4. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
9. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, pp. 4, 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
10. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
11. Straits Settlements. Government gazette. (1923, December 28). Regulations for the Queen’s Scholarships, Straits Settlements, 1924 (G.N. 2051) [Microfilm no.: NL 1217]. Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2187.
12. The Queen's scholars since 1885 in Malaya. (1948, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
14. The Queen's scholars since 1885 in Malaya. (1948, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, pp. 2, 23, 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
16. Straits Settlements. Government gazette. (1923, December 28). Regulations for the Queen’s Scholarships, Straits Settlements, 1924 (G.N. 2051) [Microfilm no.: NL 1217]. Singapore: Mission Press, pp. 2187–2188.
17. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 19. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL- [RFL])
18. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 8. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Lee, E. D. J. (Ed.). (2005). To sail uncharted seas: Commemorating 100 years of medical education (1905–2005). Singapore: Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, p. 107. (Call no.: RSING q610.7115957 NAT)
19. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 19. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
20. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 7. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
21. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
22. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL -RFL]); The Queen's scholars since 1885 in Malaya. (1948, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Queen's scholarship 1951: Five will try for coveted honour. (1951, September 5). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Fernandez, W. (2001). Without fear or favour: 50 years of the Public Service Commission. Singapore: Times Media for the Public Service Commission, pp. 80–81. (Call no.: RSING q352.63095957 FER)
25. Fernandez, W. (2001). Without fear or favour: 50 years of the Public Service Commission. Singapore: Times Media for the Public Service Commission, pp. 80–81. (Call no.: RSING q352.63095957 FER)
26. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's Scholarships of Malaya 1885-1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 38. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
27. The education report: Effect of the abolition of the Queen’s scholarships. (1911, August 21). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Educational conference. (1923, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 38. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
30. Turnbull, C. M. (1977)A history of Singapore, 1819–1975. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 129. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
31. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, pp. 23, 24. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
32. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 24. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
33. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, pp. 26, 28. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL])
34. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WU- [RFL]); A distinguished public career. (1948, September 27). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); MacG names the two governors. (1957, August 11). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme court of Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 63. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN)
37. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 31. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme court of Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN)
38. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 33. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme court of Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 71. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN)
39. Malayan to be head of Bank Negara. (1962, March 22). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 34. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Goh, S. (1990, October 23). Chong Eu to quit for good. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 34. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Leow, L. (1984, February 23). Dr Lim enjoys a dream retirement. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Maurice Baker is now NUS pro-chancellor. (1989, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme court of Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 76. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN); Tan, G. H. (2008). 100 inspiring Rafflesians, 1823–2003. Singapore: World Scientific, pp. 17–19. (Call no.: RSING 373.5957 TAN)
44. Wu, L. T., & Ng, Y. H. (1949). The Queen's scholarships of Malaya 1885–1948. Penang: Penang Premier Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RCLOS 378.3409595 WUL-[RFL]); Thian, Y. S., Chong, C. C., & Lim, S. (Eds.). (2002). In session: Supreme court of Singapore: The building, her heritage and her people. Singapore: Supreme Court, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 347.5957035 IN)
45. P.Y. Hwang elected as Intraco chairman. (1987, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wijeysingha, E. (1989). The eagle breeds a gryphon: The story of the Raffles Institution 1823–1985. Singapore: Pioneer Book Centre, p. 226. (Call no.: RSING 373.5957 WIJ)
46. Liu, G. (2005). The Singapore foreign service: The first 40 years. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 LIU)
47. Tan, G. H. (2008). 100 inspiring Rafflesians, 1823–2003. Singapore: World Scientific, pp. 135–137. (Call no.: RSING 373.5957 TAN)
48. The Istana. (2013, January 25). Dr Benjamin Sheares. Retrieved 2016, April 8 from The Istana website: http://www.istana.gov.sg/the-president/former-presidents/dr-benjamin-sheares
49. Scholars anxious to go abroad. (1946, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 4; Colony men for U. K. (1948, March 20). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan, K. Y. L. (1999). The legalists: Kenny Byrne & Eddie Barker. In P. E. Lam & K. Y. L. Tan (Eds.), Lee’s lieutenants: Singapore’s old guard (pp. 70–95). St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 73–75. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 LEE); Byrne, the champion of workers and women. (1990, May 19). The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
50. Doctor takes over varsity. (1960, December 8). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Politics and Government>>Education
Scholarships--Singapore
Education
Education>>Higher education>>Student aids and scholarships
College students--Great Britain--Scholarships, fellowships, etc.