Founded in 1981 by Sir Dr David Li, The Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong (known as ‘The Friends’) has raised and managed a scholarship fund called The Prince Philip Scholarship and has been supporting numerous promising students from Hong Kong to study at Cambridge University since 1982. The Prince Philip Scholarship includes a non-means tested cash award per annum. One Hong Kong-London economy class return air ticket will also be awarded free of means test results. Scholars may also claim, where necessary, the full costs of tuition and subsistence. In addition to the administration of the scholarship, The Friends also organise alumni social activities, mentorship program, secondary school program, charity, prominent alumni profile and more.
The Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong
Categories: 01 Introduction
The Cambridge experience, which is much more than just the academic pursuit in one of the best universities in the world, has benefitted a few privileged ones from Hong Kong. The Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong, through generous donations from Hong Kong and the Prince Philip Scholarships Scheme in particular, has in the past eighteen years significantly extended that privilege to many talented young men and women from Hong Kong who would otherwise not have the opportunity or the financial means to study at the University of Cambridge.
The Prince Philip Scholars are undoubtedly the pride of Hong Kong. More than one-third of them have gained first class results in every examination they have taken there. By spending their formative years in Cambridge, studying under the supervision of leading academics together with other young people of the top calibre and different nationalities, our scholars have also gained the much needed intellectual stimulation and international exposure.
Today, many of our Scholars and their fellow Cambridge graduates are back in Hong Kong, making significant contributions in different sectors of society including academic, government, business, legal, medical, technical and many others. They are the invaluable assets of Hong Kong.
Founding of The Friends
At the time, there were very few Chinese students studying at Cambridge. I decided then that I would make every effort to encourage more Chinese students to study at the university.
The perfect opportunity presented itself in 1981, when I made a visit to Cambridge and met with senior members of the university. They were concerned that the high level of tuition fees for overseas students would prevent many deserving scholars from attending the university and I was approached with the idea of setting up a scheme for Hong Kong students, which would enable eligible students to study at Cambridge with financial assistance.
There were many hurdles to overcome. Initially, the Dons at Cambridge were concerned about the academic standards of Hong Kong students. They originally proposed that they would only accept scholarship students who had successfully completed a minimum of one year's tertiary education. I argued that Hong Kong's syllabus and educational system was just as discerning as that of the United Kingdom. Students from Hong Kong should be judged by the same criteria as those in the United Kingdom.
A Message from Mr. Ian MacCallum
My initial task was to set up a legal framework for this which involved setting up a non-profit making company in Hong Kong. I then helped Dr. Li to identify possible donors who could be prevailed upon to support the scheme financially.
I was also involved with the authorities at Cambridge University in discussions as to how the scheme would operate and how we could avoid the usual Cambridge college interviews through an interview in Hong Kong, supervised by Cambridge. We were very fortunate in that Dr. Flood and Dr. Bainbridge, the two Cambridge academics appointed to work with us in Hong Kong in setting up the project, were extremely sympathetic to our position and were able to persuade the authorities in Cambridge to accept the results of our local interviews.
Because Wendy, my wife, was an experienced educationalist, Dr. Li asked us if we would be responsible for short listing candidates. This proved a very difficult but ultimately a very rewarding process.
Looking into the Future - Professor Rosie Young
I am delighted to be asked to write a short piece for the pamphlet introducing the Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong.
It brings back many happy memories of the year 1963 - 1964 when I was working in Cambridge as a research fellow in the Biochemistry Laboratory of the late Professor Sir Frank Young. It also gives me the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the Friends and the small role I have played over the years. But above all, I rejoice at the initiative taken by the scholars who have returned to share with the founders of the Friends the responsibility of perpetuating the Prince Philip Scholarship scheme. I am sure their participation will add lustre to the future of the Friends.
As a postgraduate I could not participate in all the exciting and interesting extracurricular activities of the undergraduates. However I was fully aware of the excellence in teaching and research as well as the free, liberal and enquiring environment in the campus. This combination makes Cambridge University the best place to nurture young leaders in the sciences, humanities, and various professions.
An Apology from the Interview Table - Dr. Wai Yin Ng (Emmanuel, 1982)
I hold the record of being the longest sitting person at the interview table for the Prince Philip Scholarship. Other benefactors sat there once and got away with it. As for me, apart from a few years away to see Cambridge for myself, I have been sitting there, getting caught at first, then playing model to help catch others ever since. Consequently I think, I have been pressurized by many younger benefactors, to tell them how they made it really. However, I would shy away invariably, knowing my honest answer would fall short of their expectation, not without embarrassment.