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The UK Launches ‘Women in STEM’ Scholarships under its ASEAN-UK SAGE Programme: Reinforcing the UK and ASEAN’s Commitment to Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in STEM

ASEAN-UK SAGE is the UK’s flagship education programme in Southeast Asia, supporting girls and marginalised communities to access education and improve foundational learning.

SINGAPORE - Media OutReach Newswire - 8 February 2024 - On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the UK Government in collaboration with the ASEAN secretariat proudly launched the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships.

This initiative aims to address gender disparities in STEM education and employment within ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste.

While girls outperform boys in mathematics and science in primary and secondary education across ASEAN countries, a gender gap starts to appear in tertiary STEM education with only 19.3% of women obtaining STEM degrees compared to 39.8% of men1. The 2022 UN progress report on SDG 5 - Gender Equality - reveals only 20% of jobs in STEM are held by women globally, and various studies highlight disparities in publication, pay, and career progression for women in STEM.

Recognising the importance of these issues, the UK, through the ASEAN-UK Supporting the Advancement of Girls' Education Programme (ASEAN-UK SAGE), seeks to address gender disparities in STEM by providing more access to STEM education for women and girls in ASEAN and Timor-Leste. Emerging from the UK's official Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN in 2021, ASEAN-UK SAGE is a pioneer initiative under the ASEAN-UK Plan of Action 2022-2026. Launched in 2023, ASEAN-UK SAGE is funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) with a commitment of up to GBP 30 million, through to 2028. The programme is implemented by the British Council, SEAMEO Secretariat, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), and EdTech Hub in its first phase, with a focus on three critical areas: (i) strengthening foundational learning, (ii) engaging out-of-school children and marginalised groups, and (iii) breaking gender barriers to digital skills and employment.

The newly launched, ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM scholarships will contribute to addressing underrepresentation of women in STEM by supporting access to UK education for women. The scholarships will support inspirational advocates in the STEM sector and promote role models for Women in STEM with viable, recognisable STEM careers.

ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships are open to women from across all ten ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste, offering women a chance to transform their future and become pioneers in STEM fields across the region. 11 successful applicants from ASEAN and Timor-Leste will receive a fully funded one-year opportunity to complete a master's degree at the prestigious University of Warwick or Imperial College London. The opportunity is open to women from ten ASEAN Member States, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam as well as Timor-Leste.

Secretary-General of ASEAN, H. E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn said:
"ASEAN expresses pride in its partnership with the UK as the ASEAN-UK SAGE Programme marks the commencement of a robust cooperation, setting the tone for a fruitful dialogue partnership. The initiation of the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships signifies our mutual dedication to improving inclusivity and increasing the presence of women in fields where their representation is traditionally lacking, specifically within STEM disciplines. ASEAN looks forward to more positive outcomes that the ASEAN – UK SAGE Programme will yield, fostering enhanced collaboration and mutual benefit between the regions."

Ambassador, UK Mission to ASEAN, H. E. Sarah Tiffin said:
"The UK, as ASEAN Dialogue Partner, is committed to improving educational opportunities for women and girls in Southeast Asia, and we will do this through our flagship ASEAN-UK SAGE programme. As part of ASEAN-UK SAGE, in 2024 we are offering 11 scholarships for applicants across ASEAN member states, plus Timor Leste. Our scholarships will offer life-changing opportunities to young women in the region, planting the seed to empower and inspire future generations of women into STEM subjects. Our mission is simple: for women to have equal access to education, smash gender barriers and norms, and push up brilliant future female leaders. We thank our two world-leading UK universities - Imperial College, London and Warwick University - for supporting this endeavour."

Summer Xia, Director South East Asia, British Council said:
"The British Council is proud to be a lead implementation partner of the ASEAN-UK SAGE programme. The Women in STEM scholarships address the underrepresentation of women in STEM leadership, and among the reasons for this underrepresentation are societal attitudes and perceptions about the role of women and girls in STEM. Complementing British Council Women in STEM Scholarships, ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships also aim to challenge these norms, empower women, create role models, and reinforce a positive attitude towards STEM education among women and girls."

Applications for the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships and the British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM are open until mid-April 2024, with both scholarships covering tuition fees, stipends, travel costs, visas, and health coverage fees.

For more information on the ASEAN – UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships, please visit:

For more information on the British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM, please visit:
Hashtag: #BritishCouncil

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British Council

The British Council is the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022–23 we reached 600 million people.

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