MCI's response to PQ on Media Education Scheme

Parliament Sitting on 5 February 2013

Notice Paper No. 15 of 2013

QUESTION NO. 974 FOR ORAL ANSWER

*974. Ms Janice Koh: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) how many Government scholarships for full-time media-related undergraduate and postgraduate studies were awarded in 2010, 2011 and 2012; (b) why the scholarship scheme was revised in 2012 to encourage co-sponsorship with media companies and to include a bond period for recipients; (c) whether the revised scheme will prejudice media practitioners such as screenwriters, directors and cinematographers who tend to work independently in a predominantly freelance industry; and (d) whether there is any drop in the number of applications and take-up rate of the new scholarships by such media practitioners as a result of the revised scheme.

Answer:

     The Media Development Authority (MDA) has been committed to building and nurturing media talents since it was established in 2003.  Launched in the same year, the Media Education Scheme (or “MES”) was open to applicants pursuing full-time undergraduate and graduate studies, either locally or overseas, in any of the seven media sub-sectors; namely, animation, broadcast, film, games, interactive digital media, music and publishing.  MES scholars were offered partial scholarship with a cap of $20,000 on tuition fees for local universities and $100,000 for overseas universities per award.

2    Since its introduction, the scheme has enlarged the overall pool of local media professionals by attracting and injecting a diverse range of media talent into the industry.  On average, MDA received 170 applications per year across the seven media sub-sectors.  From 2003 to 2011, a total of 176 scholarships were awarded.  Of this, 26 were given out in 2010 and 20 in 2011. 

3    As our local media industry evolves and matures, media companies now look for specific skill sets when hiring talent.  For example, companies seeking to develop businesses in the interactive digital media space would seek out talent with business acumen and creative skills.  Therefore, the MES was revised in 2012 to better meet the needs of the media industry as well as to focus on establishing a more defined career pathway for MES recipients.

4    To begin with, MDA partnered established media firms in the animation, broadcast, interactive digital media and publishing sub-sectors to co-offer scholarships under the revised MES.  This group of firms included companies such as MediaCorp, Singapore Press Holdings, SingTel, StarHub and Viacom International Media Networks.  The revised scheme was designed to achieve the twin goal of ensuring job placements for the scholars and, at the same time, matching talents with specific skill sets to media companies’ needs in the best possible way.  130 applications were received for the revised MES, out of which three were award recipients from the old MES scheme that sought conversion to the new scheme.  Following joint interview sessions with the participating companies, six new scholarships were awarded in 2012. 

5    The value of this revised scholarship award has more than doubled compared to the old MES scheme. It offers full scholarship, covering tuition fees and other compulsory university fees. Successful applicants also receive an annual living allowance to defray their living expenses during their studies.   Recipients are given the opportunity to intern and/ or train with the sponsoring companies.  Scholars are assured employment upon graduation with their sponsoring companies for a period of three to five years, depending on the value of the scholarship and duration of the corresponding bond.

6    MDA did receive feedback from the film community that the revised scheme may not cater to the specific needs of screenwriters, directors and cinematographers, who tend to operate on a freelance basis and do not enjoy opportunities to receive mentorship or training.  MDA subsequently met up with the film community to hear their concerns. As a result of this public consultation, MDA considered their feedback and has already introduced a film category to the MES, known as MES(Film), in 2013.

7    MES(Film) is tailored to the unique requirements of independent film-makers and to the nature of the film industry. Awarded by MDA, successful applicants under MES(Film) will be assigned a mentor who will coach, guide, advise and provide contacts as well as opportunities to the recipient upon his/ her graduation from full-time film-related study at a reputable university.  MDA is currently working with the film community to shortlist mentors who will be involved in the selection of the award recipients.

8    As MES(Film) scholars are not offered full-time employment upon graduation, they will fulfil their scholarship obligation in a different way, through a two-year service commitment under the mentorship of their assigned film-makers.  

9    As this is the first year that the revised MES is being implemented, MDA will continue to incorporate feedback from the industry to improve the scheme and foster sustained capability development for the media sector.