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The Foundation was incorporated on 17 April 1968. Its objectives are:
- To foster, develop and advance education of all kinds for the improvement of the standard of human living and social well-being and the relief of human suffering in the Republic of Singapore.
- To grant and finance scholarships for research and higher learning at renowned institutions in Singapore, UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere.
The Foundation's Scholarship contained generous provisions to cover airfares, tuition fees, a personal maintenance allowance and clothing grant and other costs. Apart from the obvious requirements of an excellent academic record, character and personality, candidates were required to be Singapore citizens. Selection was made by the Public Service Commission, and since the earlier awards were for postgraduate studies they were sometimes of short duration, but all scholars were required to serve the Government for a number of years on the completion of their studies.
By 1984 considerable changes were being introduced. The Scholarships were now being awarded for undergraduate studies and were extended to include permanent residents of Singapore, and the fields of study were widened to cover areas such as music and the performing arts.
In 1985, with the help of the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Singapore, a committee was set up to take over the selection of scholars, and it is this committee, comprising two professors from the NUS and two or more directors of the Foundation, which currently makes the selection. An advertisement appears in the local paper in March immediately after the A level results have been announced and the number of applicants has been known to be as high as 500 to 600 in a year. The Foundation’s Scholarship is one of the few in Singapore which carry no bonding requirement. From 1968 to 1984 twenty-five awards were made and from 1985 to the present there have been a further seventy-one awards. Awards have been made to students of music and ballet, as well as in fields such as medicine, law, sociology, English, engineering, economics and molecular biology.
Further changes were introduced, to apply to the 2010 intake of scholars:
- The Board decided to apply the Scholarship particularly toward the Natural Sciences, Environment, Horticulture, Humanities and the Performing Arts. With the advent of many scholarships in the more mainstream subjects, it was felt that these were areas not only under-represented in other scholarships awards, but also increasingly relevant to modern day Singapore society. These are also areas long championed by Lady Yuen Peng McNeice, the Board’s long-serving Chairman and daughter of the Founder of the Scholarship, Mrs. Loke Cheng-Kim.
- The Board would also like to encourage applications from those who show outstanding commitment and ability within their chosen field, but who may not have achieved uniformly excellent A level results*. In order to better identify such applicants, the Board will require each candidate to provide a personal statement with maximum of 300 words to support their application. Considerable weight will be attached to the subsequent interview in which the candidate will be invited to put forward a plausible case for selection to a Scholarship.
* It was however still a minimum requirement for a candidate to have been accepted for admission to a course at an established local or overseas university in the 2011/2012 academic year.