BRUNEI-MUARA – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah announced Saturday that living allowances for Bruneian scholarship students in the UK and Ireland will be increased to £1,000 per month starting January 1, 2019.

The increase applies to students undertaking undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees under four government scholarship schemes — namely, the Ministry of Education scheme, Dana Sumber Manusia (Human Resources Fund), Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces scholarship, and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces scholarship.

Currently living allowances can range from £650 to £900.

Scholarship students in Ireland will also receive the same increase in Pound Sterling before the amount is converted to the Euro.

The monarch addressed more than 1,7000 Bruneians living in the UK, Ireland and France — the majority students — during an annual reception held at the London Hilton on Park Lane on Saturday.

Members of Brunei’s royal family attend a get-together with Bruneian citizens living in the UK and Ireland, an event held at the London Hilton on Park Lane, Dec 22, 2018. Photo: Infofoto From L-R, front row: HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik, HM the Sultan, and HM the Raja Isteri. Photo Infofoto

During the gathering he stressed the importance of human resources to national development, adding that he hoped the allowance increase would give students “peace of mind” so they can focus on their studies.

His Majesty urged students to use the allowance “wisely and prudently”.

Other allowances given to students will remain unchanged, while those under the Sultan’s Scholar, Chancellor’s Scholar and government in-service training schemes will not see a change to their respective living allowances.

While the allowance increase affects scholarship students in the UK and Ireland, the monarch said that those studying elsewhere will also receive an increase to their living allowances at “an appropriate rate”, but did not elaborate further.

“Education, whether it is formal or informal, as well as ongoing training, is the country’s biggest investment.

“My government will continue to provide opportunities for select students to pursue their studies overseas through various scholarship schemes,” he said.

HM the Raja Isteri C) pictured during the get-together ceremony with Brunei residents especially students who are currently in United Kingdom and Ireland at London Hilton on Park Lane, London. Photo: PMO

His Majesty also stressed the need for students to “honour their promise” and return home to contribute to national development.

He called for stern action against students who fail to return to Brunei to serve their bond, urging the relevant parties to take action against students who break the conditions of the scholarship agreement.

“There are still some government scholarship students who do not honour their promise and refuse to return home to serve the country. This is very sad indeed. Students should have loyalty to the country, and not cause the country to suffer losses,” he said.

During Saturday’s reception, His Majesty also conferred Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Chancellor’s Scholar award to two recipients for the 2018/2019 academic year — Adeline Poh Wern Jihn, who is pursuing a PhD in organic chemistry at Oxford University; and Siti Nurhazimah Awang Mahmud, who is currently undertaking a masters degree in advanced mechanical engineering at Imperial College London.

The two recipients of UBD’s Chancellor’s Scholar award for the 2018/2019 academic year. Adeline Poh Wern Jihn (L) is pursuing a PhD in organic chemistry at Oxford University; and Siti Nurhazimah Awang Mahmud (R), is undertaking a masters degree in advanced mechanical engineering at Imperial College London. Photo: Infofoto

The recipients will receive mentorship from UBD, access to research laboratories and UBD libraries, as well as subsidies for research projects and conferences.

Since its introduction in 2012, the Chancellor’s Scholar award has become one of the most selective scholarships awarded by the government. Only 11 students have received the award over six years.