At secondary school and junior college, Lance Lim’s grades were average. But when he found his niche in design at Temasek Polytechnic, he rocketed to the top of his class.

In 2006, with his Diploma of Interior Architecture and Design, Lance was eligible for UNSW’s prestigious Golden Jubilee Scholarship. Now, on campus in Sydney at UNSW’s College of Fine Arts, he’s turning his diploma into a degree over two years, and has scored a maximum High Distinction for every subject to date.

‘I didn’t do particularly well academically throughout my education, it was only with design that I started to excel, so I didn’t take getting the scholarship for granted,’ he said.

It’s Lance’s first trip to Sydney and his top marks gave him a valuable opportunity to study overseas which he would not otherwise have been able to afford.

The Golden Jubilee Scholarship programme was established in 1999, to mark UNSW’s 50th year. It was offered to encourage and enable outstanding international diploma holders from Singapore and Malaysia to complete an undergraduate degree at UNSW.

UNSW was the first university in Australia to accept international students from the early 1950s, many of them from Malaysia and Singapore, and the Golden Jubilee cements these strong historic links. The scholarship, covering two years of tuition fees, allows students to complete an undergraduate degree, taking into account credit given for diplomas from selected colleges in Malaysia and polytechnics in Singapore. There is, however, discretion for the Faculties to offer additional funding for study and Lim said he is already aiming to do a Masters’ programme.

Every year some 20 students are selected from applicants who have achieved first or second places in their courses or programmes at Malaysia’s University of Technology Mara (UiTM), HELP University College, INTI College, SEGI College (formerly Prime College) and Taylor’s College (Built Environment and Engineering only) and Singapore’s Nanyang, Ngee Ann, Singapore, Temasek and Republic Polytechnics. Many of these students enter UNSW’s top ranking Engineering and Science faculties.

In 2007, Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong visited UNSW to honour the more than 200 Golden Jubilee Scholars to date. The then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark Wainwright, said, ‘Former Golden Jubilee Scholars have gone on to achieve great success, with a number receiving the University Medal or continuing on to honours and postgraduate study. They also play an essential role as our alumni, ensuring the university’s ongoing presence in the region.’

To Lance, his course at the College of Fine Arts – one of Australia’s premier art and design schools – is both challenging and varied. So far, he’s designed a train station and its surroundings for urban Sydney and has tackled digital desktop publishing. As for living in Sydney, ‘It’s not as orderly or as planned out as Singapore. It has its own dynamics which I’m getting used to.’

Lance has some work experience in Singapore, where he established a small design company while studying and doing his national service. Now he is collaborating with a local Australian architect in his spare time and dreaming of a future design business in both Singapore and Australia.

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