In the updated terms and condition posted on the MyBrain website, it was stipulated that applicants of government financial aid for both the MyMaster and MyPhD programme for 2016 cannot be older than 35 years of age.
The recent reintroduction of an age limit to popular government scholarship programme, MyBrain15, has caused an uproar among students and aspiring students recently. MyBrain15 Facebook Photo
45-year-old manager and Phd candidate Shima said she felt that the new age restriction was a practise of age discrimination by the government.
According to Shima, she started late to pursue her PhD in communications due to commitments to her profession as well as raising a family.
She added that the new policy was not only unfair to the more mature Malaysian workforce, but the country would also lose these experienced talents to other nation.
“Most of middle-aged post graduate students are those who already excel in their career. The age restriction for financial aid would just be a major obstacle for them to contribute more to the country.
“The restriction is also pointless as European countries and even Australia do not impose an age limit for getting scholarships,” she said, adding that this may eventually lead to a further “brain drain.”
Meanwhile, Naimah, a 36-year-old researcher, called for MyBrains15 to review the new age cap, saying the age limit was too low. According to her, there are other criteria that the Higher Education Ministry could use to filter through the applicants.
“For example, instead of age, they should increase the minimum requirement in terms of CGPA from 3.00 to 3.50 for PhD applications.
“This is how the government can control the quality of our graduates,” she said. In 2012, the initial age limit of 45 for master’s applicants and 50 for PhD applicants were removed, in order to attract more applicants.
The re-introduction of age limit came as a surprise to some, as they had already started their application process last year, with hopes to complete it this year. On MyBrain15’s Facebook page, one user by the name of Rajalecthumi Koladavelu queried, “Why the age limit?”
She lamented that there was not much financial support available for post graduate studies in the country. “Unless someone is in the education field, most will start their Masters or PhD after 38 years of age.
“I hope the government will relax the conditions on the age,” said Rajalecthumi. MyBrain15 awarded 20,000 scholarships in February 2016, making use of the RM300 million grant allocated from the revised budget in January.
Established in 2008, MyBrain15 under the Higher Education Ministry targets to create a pool of innovative talent in Malaysia, targetting 60,000 Malaysian PhD holders by 2023.