What is the YTL Scholarship?
The YTL Foundation offers two types of scholarship programmes catered towards Malaysian students hoping to pursue their tertiary studies both locally and abroad. Since the foundation’s establishment in 1997, almost 400 scholarships have been awarded to deserving students across the country.
If you have secured an offer from a top-rated international university or are hoping to pursue a twinning programme, the Yeoh Tiong Lay Scholarship Award is for you! There are up to three spots awarded each year and each scholar will be expected to serve an employment bond (dependent on the length of their degree) with the YTL Group upon graduation. Excitingly, there are no limits to what type of degree you are allowed to pursue under the Yeoh Tiong Lay Scholarship Award. (Our existing international scholar degrees range from Medicine to Human, Social & Political Sciences!)
What does the Yeoh Tiong Lay Award consist of?
The foundation will provide for your full tuition fees, living expenses, book allowance, an annual round trip back home to Malaysia and visa application fees. Aside from various internship opportunities with the company, a scholar coach will also be assigned to you to oversee and assist with your personal development throughout your degree years. Lastly, the foundation organises an annual scholar training weekend for its scholars where you get to meet and gather with the other scholars in the country.
Why did you apply to this specific scholarship?
As an IGCSE and non-SPM student, my options were mostly limited to scholarships offered by private institutions. Hence, the YTL scholarship programme was one of the only few I applied to.
Considering the wide range of business sectors the YTL Group delves into (from telecommunications to hospitality), along with opportunities to work abroad in their international subsidiary branches, I was also attracted by the wide selection of career pathways I could pursue throughout my bond.
What was the application process like?
Like every other scholarship application, the process starts with submitting an online form. Applications are received on a rolling basis and close every year on the 31st of March.
There are two parts to YTL’s online application form. The first part is linked to the foundation’s official website and consists of your basic personal details. The second part will be sent to you following the completion of the first part and will require further in-depth information, including uploading the required documents listed on the official website. Finally, you will be required to write an essay answering why you deserve the scholarship.
(Physical) Assessment Day
While past scholars waited a few weeks to a month for notice of shortlisting, my batch waited approximately two months before hearing back from the foundation, so patience was definitely a key feature I had to practise throughout the process! After submitting my application in late March, I received an invitation around late May to a physical assessment day at Menara YTL in Bukit Bintang. It was great timing as I had just completed my A2 exams then.
It was definitely an experience walking into the company’s newly built headquarters! Having been divided into groups at the start of the day, all candidates were assessed through a rotation of aptitude tests, a group activity and individual interviews. It quickly grew visible to me that the foundation placed an emphasis on its scholars being well-balanced individuals who excelled not only academically but also outside of their studies.
I was shortlisted for the final panel interview a few weeks after my assessment, where I had the privilege to speak with a panel of directorial members under the YTL Group, including the Director of the YTL Foundation, Dato’ Kathleen Chew.
It was a daunting experience for me as I had to convince the foundation I was the right candidate for a scholarship within the time constraints of the short interview session. The questions asked were vastly different from the questions asked in my first assessment interview. In fact, I was particularly caught off-guard when Dato’ Kathleen questioned me about a specific experience I wrote about in my application essay, as I struggled to fully recall the details of the events I had written about months prior. Nonetheless, I was able to expand upon my answers and had a fruitful conversation regarding my career aspirations.
Receiving the Scholarship!
My gruelling scholarship application process formally concluded in late August, when I received an email notifying me of my successful application and an invitation to a scholar induction ceremony. Reading the email was a surreal moment for me as I was almost certain that I had not received the scholarship based on the weeks of radio silence preceding my interview. Regardless, it was an incredible relief for me to know that my months of patience and hardwork had paid off!
What were your thoughts coming out of the application process?
Considering the entire procedure lasted almost six months, I would certainly describe the process as a humbling one. This was from the weeks spent agonisingly waiting for an update and experiencing feelings of severe impostor syndrome when meeting the other outstanding candidates. Additionally, I grew increasingly stressed when I received rejection after rejection from my other scholarship applications, as it meant that the YTL Scholarship was my last hope of studying abroad.
However, as I reminisce upon those few key months of my life, I can now see that I had emerged from it as a better, grounded person. It was a great challenge to balance my A-Levels and extracurriculars whilst stressing about the uncertain nature of my plans for university. But it was the same challenge that also allowed me to test my dedication in manifesting my dreams and better appreciate the support my family and friends provided me with.
The new experiences I have gained so far in the UK have been monumental to my self-growth, hence I believe the next few years of my study abroad will prove to be just as pivotal. Words cannot describe the immense gratitude I have for the foundation for helping me pursue my dreams of studying abroad, and for allowing me to be part of the wonderful community of YTL Scholars!
What are your tips/advice for YTL scholarship applicants?
Define your story; who are you outside of your studies and your chosen degree? It is important that you exemplify the five core YTL values of hard work, honesty, moral responsibility, togetherness and vitality. As the foundation prides itself on its work in improving access to and quality of education, I thoroughly demonstrated my passion for the same cause in my application. In my interviews, I drew heavily from my extracurricular activities to highlight my commitment to advancing said passions. Most of the other candidates have excellent academic track records just as you do, so it is vital you differentiate yourself early on with your unique skills and experiences.
Know what you want. It is essential that you are clear from the get-go about what you aspire to achieve with your degree in YTL (and even outside of YTL after the end of your bond). While things may obviously change as you embark on a new journey in university, there is great value in showing your interviewers that you have a clear foresight of your goals in life and a plan to get to where you want to be.
Persevere! I believe I have exhausted the necessity of patience and perseverance already, but it is important to keep in mind that the process will be rigorous and will often result in many odd hours of refreshing your email inbox hoping for an update. While the idea that there were just as many stress-ridden applicants as I was served a bit of comfort, it was ultimately up to my own dedication to see my application be completed to the best quality through till the end.
Be kind. Although it is easy to get swept up in the competitive undercurrent of scholarship applications, it is much more important to remember that everyone else is just as anxious as you are. Extend a helping hand when you can – be it by including another candidate in a group discussion or checking in with one another when possible. Who knows, you might come out of the process with a few good friends.
For more information regarding YTL Foundation’s Scholarship programmes, you can refer to the official website https://www.ytlfoundation.org/scholarships/. All content written is indicative of my own personal experience applying for the scholarship.
Mindy Liew is a YTL Scholar studying Law at the University of Bristol and will be graduating in 2025. She is an avid advocate for increasing access to quality education who loves giving her friends tarot readings, firmly believing that nothing good ever happens after 2AM. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the author via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mindyliew.