“International students bring with them a wealth of experience from all sorts of universities so they enliven our student population as well as contribute to the research in the priorities of the university,” said David Young, deputy dean of the graduate studies and research office. The university is currently shortlisting applicants to begin their studies in early 2013.
Over the last two years, the university has awarded over 120 Graduate Research Scholarships to Masters and PhD students from 26 countries. The scheme, launched by the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, includes a tuition waiver, travel to Brunei Darussalam and back, a BND1,500 (US$1,180) monthly stipend and allowances for field research.
According to Young, international students find it easy to adapt to the university as everyone speaks English and the cost of living is low – both selling points for its plans for future expansion of the scheme.
Forbes also ranks Brunei as the fifth richest nation out of 182 nations
“We’re going to expand the scholarships we offer,” said Young. “Our plan is to expand graduate intake and expand the proportion of the student body that is international graduate students. We are going to put an emphasis on more research students.”
The university is also looking to attract international students with its Masters in Public Policy and Management programme launching in January 2013. “It’s an elite Masters meant for regional leaders from emerging countries to study in Brunei and at different US universities,” said Young.
Founded in 1985, the university is the oldest in the country and started with just 176 students. That number has swelled to 4,000 students today, 25% of whom are international. Young says most scholarship applicants come from surrounding Asian countries, the Middle East and Africa with a “smattering of US, European and Australian students”.
Brunei has a population of just 400,000 but is a rich country: it has the second highest Human Development Index among southeast Asian countries after Singapore. And Forbes ranks Brunei as the fifth richest nation out of 182 nations due to its extensive petroleum and natural gas fields.