CLA News / YCLA’s Vivian Kuan on achieving the Chevening scholarship and where she is now
Tell us more about yourself and about the Chevening Scholarship
My name is Vivian Kuan. I am a Malaysian and I am currently living in North Wales, UK. I am currently pursuing an MBA in Law and Management with a fully funded UK government global scholarship by the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
I am very grateful to be one of the recipient of this Scholarship. There were 64,408 applicants for the Chevening Scholarship 2022/2023, and I was fortunate to be one out of the 1,740 successful applicants. 39 Malaysians were recipients of the Scholarship this year: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uks-chevening-scholarships-awarded-to-39-malaysians
The Chevening Scholarship includes fully paid tuition fees, a monthly stipend throughout the academic year and a return flight ticket to and from the UK.
The focus of the program is to develop emerging leaders through education in the UK. The Scholarship provides scholars the opportunity to create lasting friendships with other postgraduate students who will become leaders of their professions in the future in the UK and beyond.
What were your reasons for applying for this Scholarship?
I have always had aspirations to further my studies. However, I would have only been able to do so if I was provided funding for my studies. A friend who was a Chevening Alumni encouraged me to apply for this Scholarship. Chevening Scholarships are highly competitive and prestigious. Frankly speaking, I had my doubts if I was going to be successful with my application. I gave it a shot anyway and was elated that I had been chosen as one of the recipients of the Scholarship.
How was the application process like?
In order to be eligible for the scholarship, you must demonstrate that you have approximately 2 years (or more) of work experience. This work experience can be a combination of full- and part-time work, voluntary and unpaid or paid internships. The work experience must show your commitment to a cause, issue or area of development for your home nation.
Applicants are required to write four short essay questions on the following areas: (1) Leadership and Influence, (2) Networking, (3) Studying in the UK and (4) our long term goals. I found this to be a very rigorous process. I invested many late nights and weekends researching on the courses and universities in the UK, drafting and redrafting my essays, conceptualising, encapsulating my past and current leadership and networking experience into writing, narrating why I wanted to study in the UK and what were my long term plans after completion of my studies.
Applicants were also required to upload two reference letters (preferably one from academia and the other from a professional relationship) as part of the application process. Referees will need to endorse the applicant’s skills in leadership and networking, personal, intellectual, and interpersonal qualities and the applicant’s ability to complete a demanding academic programme in the UK.
The application process was spread out over a span of almost a year. Applications opened in August 2021 and results were announced in July 2022. The four essays had to be submitted before the application deadline in November 2021. Thereafter, I received a notification that I had advanced to the next round of the application process—the interview stage.
The interview took place in April 2022 and results were announced in July 2022.
By then, applicants must show that they have at least one unconditional offer from a UK university in order to advance to the final stages of the Scholarship award process.
Thereafter, I applied for a student visa, secured a flight ticket and flew in to the UK in September.
How long will you be in the UK?
The duration of my course will be from September 2022 to September 2023; a 12 month postgraduate taught masters. As part of the terms of the scholarship, all scholars are mandated to return back to our home country to apply all that has been learnt in the UK back in our respective countries, for at least the next immediate two years after completion of our Masters programme.
I am very fortunate that I will be able to return to my role as Deputy Legal Counsel in SEEK after my studies (I am currently on a study sabbatical). My colleagues in the Legal team and the executive leadership in SEEK have been completely supportive of this opportunity—to which I am deeply grateful for. I am very excited to return home and to contribute back with all that I have learnt in my MBA.
How has the journey been so far?
It has been almost 2 months (at the time of writing) since I arrived in Wales. I may be biased, but North Wales is definitely one of the most scenic places I have been to in the UK. I live in Bangor which has a bit of everything—mountainous terrains (Mount Snowdon—highest mountain in Wales), the sea (situated on a coastal area–a short ferry ride away from Dublin, Ireland) and beautiful country side views.
I absolutely love being out for walks along the country side, mountains and beaches. I have also joined the University Rowing team. We train at Lake Padarn and the views there are breath-taking.
I am really enjoying the business modules in my MBA program. It is different from the law subjects I am used to but it has truly been enriching my perspectives on the interplay between law and business. As an in house counsel in a multinational company and previously a practising corporate litigator, I find the theoretical aspects of international strategic management, human resource management, marketing, and the intersection of business, human rights and global trade law very enjoyable.
Do you have any advice/tips for aspiring Chevening Scholarship applicants?
Take the plunge and apply. Be prepared to put in a good amount of work researching on the course you intend to study. This will help you develop structured and authentic narrative of your past leadership and networking experiences, why you want to study the particular course in the UK and your future aspirations. The goals spelled out in the essays have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Read more here: https://www.chevening.org/faqs/how-are-chevening-scholars-selected/
At the interview stage, you must demonstrate the same level of authenticity in answering the interview questions. You must demonstrate that you have a clear vision of your future and the leadership potential to achieve your goals. Think carefully about the questions and why you are applying for the scholarship. More tips here: https://www.chevening.org/news/5-chevening-scholars-tell-us-the-hardest-question-they-faced-at-interview/
Throughout the application process, it is crucial that you show that your aspirations fit with the aims of the Chevening Scholarship program of improving international cooperation between the UK and your home country.