Applying for US education still a complicated process for Bruneians

National 2 minutes, 10 seconds


THE “complicated” process of applying to American universities still proves to be a major hurdle in attracting Bruneian students to the United States, said an official from the US Embassy to Brunei yesterday.

Mayra Robles, the Embassy’s education advisor, said many secondary school students find the application process daunting.

“The main problem is understanding the application process, which is really not that complicated, but understanding it is a whole different thing when you have a British background in education,” she said yesterday on the sidelines of a pre-departure briefing for US-bound students.

“Another (problem) is distance - Brunei is very far from the US and Bruneians are not very familiar with US culture and US education. That could be a bit of a hurdle but that’s why we’re here at Education USA to answer and simplify the process.”

Despite these barriers, the number of locals applying for US student visas has doubled since 2009, with approximately 130 Bruneians currently studying in the country.

Held at Kaleidoscope Studio in Kiulap, more than 50 people attended the embassy briefing aimed at students beginning higher education courses in America this September.

Robles said at least eight students were confirmed to begin their studies this autumn, at institutions such as Harvard University and Tufts University, among others.

“We don’t have the final numbers yet because some are still applying for visas… And this does not include the number of students who are non-Bruneians but studying locally, then there would probably be 20 plus.”

She added that the embassy will continue its education outreach programme, visiting local secondary schools to familiarise students with the US education system and universities.

“We work together with the Ministry of Education’s scholarship division, accreditation division and we also work with other scholarship bodies like the Ministry of Defence and Brunei Shell Petroleum so we can help the students from an early stage.”

Robles said the embassy offers the ‘Education USA College Competitive Class’ to help familiarise Bruneian students with the US education system and SAT college admission exam, in order to prepare them for college life at least two years before they begin undergraduate studies.

The embassy’s public affairs officer, Dr Edward Findlay, added that the greatest strength of American universities is diversity.

“With over 4,000 accredited colleges and universities, the US system provides options.”

“We have big schools and small schools, tiny towns and huge cities, technical universities and liberal arts colleges…. Whatever your preferences the US system allows all students to study what they want, in a way that works for them,” she added.

The Brunei Times