Kartini Kamalul Ariffin.
Hamidah Naziadin (foreground, second from left) and Vicki Treadell (next to Hamidah) with Chevening partners and Chevening Scholarship 2017/2018 recipients.

MENTION the name Kartini Kamalul Ariffin, and the first thing that comes to the minds of many Malaysians is the image of a bubbly girl who was part of a trio hosting 3R (Respek, Relaks, Respon), a young women’s empowerment TV show in the early 2000s.

A graduate in Bachelor of Science Computerised Accountancy from the United Kingdom and with a career in the field, Kartini’s life changed course to follow her passion for broadcasting, radio and the world of media after her stint as a TV host.

In 2007, she pursued the MA Broadcast Journalism course at Goldsmiths College, University of London in the UK as a recipient of the British government’s Chevening scholarship.

“I quit my job not knowing whether I could get employed upon my return. My boss asked me the reason why I wanted to pursue a master’s degree because in the media world, paper qualification is not emphasised — the focus is on experience.

“I wanted to change that. For the media industry to grow, we need to emphasise professionalism. There’s no proper film school in the country, we need to go abroad. There are communications courses here but they are general in scope,” she said, when speaking to 44 UK-bound Chevening scholarship recipients for the 2017/2018 academic session at their recent pre-departure briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

The scholarship boosted Kartini’s 3R work as a platform for advocacy for women’s rights and empowerment.

“I made a comparison of the media in the UK and Malaysia. In the former, there is emphasis on being objective and neutral. There is liberty to explore and report it as it is. My thought processes became more mature due to a different outlook,” she said.

And for Kartini, who is now iM4U Radio Sdn Bhd director, the networking in the UK was invaluable.

“I still keep in touch with my classmates among whom are a BBC Scotland producer, a Pakistani television producer, a media practitioner in Brazil and a film producer from China. I have not collaborated with them yet.

“Furthering one’s studies under the Chevening programme opens up the mind even more. It is helpful in terms of personal development. Profession-wise, it does bring with it a lot of credibility.”

The Chevening Scholarships programme is the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partner organisations. The Chevening programme began in 1983 and has developed into a prestigious international scheme. There are more than 46,000 Chevening alumni around the world who together comprise an influential and highly regarded global network.

On top of the British government’s funding, corporate partners including BAE Systems, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, the Prudence Foundation (community investment arm of Prudential), HSBC, Yayasan Khazanah and British universities provide additional funding in support of the programme.

“Malaysia’s growing appetite for higher education in the UK is reflected in the increase in Chevening Scholarships applications. We received a record of 830 applications for the 2017/18 year compared to 701 applications received in the previous year. Malaysia continues to receive one of the highest number of Chevening scholarships per capita in the world,” said Vicky Treadell, the British High Commissioner to Malaysia.


British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicky Treadell.

Successful scholars will be heading to the UK as early as this month to pursue a wide range of master’s programmes at top UK universities, with the aim of returning to Malaysia to make a significant contribution in one of these priority areas: public policy; human rights and law; media and education; economics; science and engineering.

“This year, we have seen the number of Chevening scholars studying humanities related subjects double compared to last year,” said Treadall.

Out of the 44 Malaysian recipients, two are sponsored by CIMB Group Holdings Bhd.

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd group chief people officer Datuk Hamidah Naziadin said: “Apart from the two Malaysians, we are also sponsoring one applicant each from Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. Chevening has screened and selected applicants and we joined in at the interview at the later stage. We just wanted to ensure the candidates are forward-looking and they have curiosity and agility.

“And, of course, the reason why they choose the subject they wish to study — passion for their chosen field of study will certainly help when they come back to make a difference.”

She added: “Banking is moving so fast and we need suitable talents to grow as an Asean bank. Those we are sponsoring will have the opportunity to join us should they wish. So with them coming back, with the extra skills they have acquired — new knowledge and what they learnt from other countries — we gain diversity, perspective, different views, all of which value-add to existing teams.”

The British High Commission is receiving applications for those wishing to study in the UK for the 2018/19 academic year. Details are at www.chevening.org/malaysia, Chevening Scholarships officer Bavani Sivalingam said: “Applications close on Nov 7, 2017. The broad criteria to apply is to be a citizen of a Chevening-eligible country, have an undergraduate degree that will enable entry into a postgraduate programme at a UK university, have at least two years’ work experience, have applied to three eligible UK university courses and received an unconditional offer from one of these

“We do not limit the age of the applicant nor area of study,” said Bavani, adding that the process of selecting Chevening Scholars takes a minimum of eight months from the application deadline to when scholars are conditionally selected for an award.

The scholarship includes university tuition fees, a monthly stipend, travel costs to and from the UK, an arrival allowance, a homeward departure allowance, the cost of one visa application, and a travel grant to attend Chevening events in the UK.

This year’s recipients include New Straits Times news editor Faridul Anwar Farinordin, who will pursue a Master’s degree in Migration and Global Development at University of Sussex in Brighton, England.