More options for students
By Sonia K in Sydney

The Brunei government will continue to encourage its citizens to gain specialisation and expertise needed in education, especially in overcoming the challenges of globalisation and also for the success of the economic diversification.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said this in a titah yesterday at a get-together ceremony with Brunei students who are currently studying in Australia at the Westin Hotel, Sydney, Australia.

His Majesty was in Sydney to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders' Summit, which came to a close earlier in the day.

About 100 students coming from all over Australia such as Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney attended the reception.

His Majesty said Bruneians who are experienced and knowledgeable in whatever field they are in are an asset to the country and are hoped to contribute to Brunei's continuing prosperity and development.

His Majesty said, "The government is taking initiatives to identify and accredit institutions not only from countries that we are already familiar with such as United Kingdom, Egypt and Australia but also several countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe."

This will facilitate students who wish to study abroad and at the same time open more opportunities and options, the monarch added.

The government is currently updating the education schemes and at the same time improve the welfare of students abroad to ensure they are well taken care of, His Majesty said.

"In this regard, a student unit has been assigned at the Brunei Darussalam High Commission in Canberra, Australia," the ruler said.

"I would like to take this opportunity to advice students not to waste this golden opportunity that they have been given. This is the time to take in as much knowledge and enrich your experience," His Majesty told all students.

The monarch also advised students not to involve themselves in any wasteful activities and always think of beneficial issues.

"Students are the ambassadors of the nation and could become the bridge of friendship the country needs.

"They reflect the image of the country and if they are good then so is the country's name," His Majesty said.

So important is the personality of the students, His Majesty said, that it is important for it to be maintained always and where ever they go.

Currently, 396 students from Brunei are registered with the Brunei High Commission in Australia for the academic session 2007/2008. Of that, 130 are recipients of government scholarships through the Ministry of Education including Universiti Brunei Darussalam, 21 through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 33 under the Brunei Shell Petroleum Scholarship, while others are either in-service students (56) or private students (156).

The Vice-President of the Petroleum Engineering Association in Sydney, Airul Hizam bin Hj Hafneh, said currently 48 students are studying in Sydney and 33 of whom are under the Brunei Shell Petroleum Scholarship.

His Majesty had visited Sydney in 2005 and for some of the students this was their second time to meet and greet His Majesty in Australia. - Borneo Bulletin (10th September 2007)