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SE Asian STEM scholars awarded British Council scholarships

Some 21 scholars from South East Asia have been chosen as recipients of the British Council’s scholarships for women in STEM for 2022/23, as the organisation continues efforts to enhance South East Asia-UK relations.

Fewer than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women. Photo: Unsplash

The program includes special support for mothers, including childcare for dependant children

For the second year running, the fully funded scholarships have been awarded in partnership with 26 UK universities, with the aim of benefiting women from South East Asia, South Asia, the Americas, Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine.

Helga Stellmacher, country director for British Council Thailand, said the objective of the program is to “encourage women who would not have had the financial means to go and study in the UK”.

Some five scholars from Thailand have been chosen to study or conduct research at Brunel University London, Teesside University, University of York and University of Glasgow.

A further two students from Laos and Cambodia have been chosen to study at Edinburgh Napier University.

“We want to encourage women to study STEM in the UK so we do not want any barriers,” said Uraiwan Samolee, head of education Thailand at the British Council.

The scholarship includes complete financial support including tuition fees, stipend, travel costs, visa and health coverage fees and with special support for mothers including childcare, if the student is bringing dependants. English language training is also provided for students who need it.

Stellmacher said that such scholarships contribute to the overall perception and student consciousness of UK study.

“Hopefully those people are coming back into society with a postgraduate [degree] and hopefully they will be able to get up to the higher echelons of the academia. Again, it’s just showing that women can do that,” she added.

According to data from UNESCO, fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and only 30 percent of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.

According to British Council, globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in subjects such as information and communications technology, natural science, maths and statistics, engineering, manufacturing and construction.

When the students have completed the scholarships, they are encouraged by the British Council to carry out advocacy work in their home countries focused on encouraging more women to pursue STEM careers and studies, working together with the organisation and alumni throughout the region.

Successful scholarship applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a STEM subject, but the scholarship is also open to students with undergraduate degrees in related subjects through which their skills can be converted.

Launched in 2021, the first Thai scholar to be awarded the scholarship was Lizz Srisuwan, a doctor and transgender woman, who studied master’s degree in public health at Liverpool John Moores University, focusing her research on how LGBTQ+ people are treated within the UK health system.

“I am a trailblazer”

Another alumni scholar, Irene Angela, from Indonesia, was chosen to study sustainable energy at the University of Glasgow.

“I am a trailblazer. I’m the first woman to ever get a master’s degree in my family,” said Angela, in a video for the British Council.

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