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Local VS Overseas Scholarships – Things to Consider

With the release of the A-Level results, most scholarships are now open for applications. (If you haven’t started applying, you can begin looking around here.)


Our previous articles have explored what considerations go into selecting a scholarship. We hope applicants have explored the options, prepared their portfolios, and are ready to apply to a sponsoring organisation of choice.


But then another question pops up. Many organisations offer both local and overseas scholarships to choose from. Broadly, a local scholarship offers an all-rounded education from the comfort of home, while an overseas scholarship opens doors to new cultures, experiences, and friends in a reputable foreign university.


Whether it is local or overseas, you’ll get to the similar end goal of securing a coveted degree. So which would suit you? Here are some things to consider.


The Bond Period

One of the biggest differences between a local and overseas scholarship is that the bond for a local scholarship tends to be shorter. (As an estimation, an overseas scholarship typically has a bond of six years while a local scholarship is three to four years.)


A longer bond period means being tied to a sponsoring organisation longer, which may affect later career decisions.


In addition, the bond period is also contingent on the scholarship type. Mid-term scholarships are usually tied to a bond whose period is half that of a full-term scholarship. Therefore, a mid-term overseas scholarship would only require you to only serve in the sponsoring organisation for three years.


TIP: If the bond period is a prominent concern, we recommend applying for a bond-free scholarship such as the NUS Merit Scholarship or OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship.


The Overseas Experience


One of the biggest recommendations of an overseas scholarship is the opportunity to experience new things and broaden your worldview. Other than the financial backing to absorb in all the learning available, sponsoring organisations often offer their scholars unique internships and placements that help a scholar understand his/her potential career better.


Also, there’s nothing that fosters independence and maturity better than living alone in another country. Without familiar support systems and family members always ready to help, an overseas scholar will learn self-discipline and self-efficiency as he or she navigates the new environment.


However, all these advantages may be unnecessary or even become a cause for stress. Most scholars experience homesickness and difficulty during their first year overseas.


Hence, an advantage to a local scholarship is that there is no cultural adjustment needed, so a student can concentrate on his or her studies. Also, an established network of family, friends and teachers/mentors is always a source of stability and reassurance, vital when exams are tough or assignments complicated.


The Financial Coverage


By and large, it is more expensive to live overseas than locally, even with the coverage of a scholarship. On an overseas scholarship, most of the finances will be taken care of, such as air tickets and living allowances. (However, that does not mean that you can splurge on whatever foreign designer goods that catch your eye!)


That said, there will always be unexpected expenses, and these are more likely to crop up when studying overseas. Scholars have also experienced headaches when their “caretakers” (executives from the sponsoring organisation who look after overseas scholars) ask them for itemised expenditure lists and proofs of purchase!


In contrast, finances are much simpler when managed locally. The local scholar need not bother with exchange rates and state taxes, and can continue to save and spend as he or she has before. This allows the scholar to put the full effort into his or her studies, and perhaps take part in an internship or course or two for further learning.


The Prestige


BrightSparks Scholarship & Education Survey 2019 found that when asked to rate the factors that would affect their choice of institution, students placed the most emphasis on the recognition of their certificate. Additionally, they voted National University of Singapore (NUS) as their higher learning institute of choice.


Some scholarships have requirements as to which universities a scholar can apply to both local and overseas. It is important to take those into account when deciding where to study.



At the end of the day, it is important to remember that a scholarship is not a degree, but also a path to that degree. And whichever road you choose to get there can have important reflections on your career, learning, and life. Choose well and don’t look back!


We at BrightSparks wish all applicants all the best!



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