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OCBC awards 11 bond-free scholarships in Singapore

OCBC awards 11 bond-free scholarships in Singapore

  • 07 Aug 2023

OCBC remains one of the very few in the private sector to offer bond-free scholarships to help outstanding individuals pursue their dreams, with over 600 recipients since the 1950s.

Ms Helen Wong, Group Chief Executive Officer, OCBC (back row, 3rd from left) with the 2023 cohort of OCBC scholars who attended the scholarships ceremony on 7 Aug 2023 in person and virtually.

Singapore, 7 August 2023 – An aspiring lawyer, visual development artist and piano teacher were among the 11 outstanding young individuals who received OCBC’s bond-free scholarships this year in Singapore. With no obligation to serve in the Bank upon graduation, they will be pursuing higher education in their fields of interest at local tertiary institutions and decide on the career path that best fit their passions. Two of the scholars will be taking music-related degrees at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).

About S$1 million is committed annually to support new and existing scholars across all scholarships that come with and without a bond. In response to rising tuition rates, OCBC has increased its commitment to the programme over the years.

The Bank’s bond-free scholarships comprise of two categories, the OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship and the Children of Staff Scholarship.

Valued at S$11,000 annually, the OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship is awarded to Singaporean students with outstanding academic performances, leadership qualities, active co-curriculum and community involvement for studies at the following institutions:

  • National University of Singapore
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Singapore Management University
  • SIM University
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design
  • Singapore Institute of Technology
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

While there is no bond tied to the Scholarship, OCBC offers internships opportunities to the recipients so they can gain valuable working experience during their term breaks. They will also be involved in the Bank’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. Aside from the internship opportunities, OCBC scholars are also welcome to join the Bank upon graduation, should they want to do so.

Since the inception of the bond-free scholarships in the 1950s, over 600 young talented individuals have been awarded, with many going on to carve out a career outside of banking. One such example is Ms Janet Ang, Chairperson of the Public Transport Council – the first woman to head the group which regulates MRT and bus fares. An OCBC Scholarship recipient in 1981, she spent most of her career in the technology sector. As both her parents were retired by the time she entered university, the Scholarship enabled her to focus on her studies without the need to give tuition to pay for school fees and hostel fees.

OCBC’s Head of Group Human Resources, Ms Lee Hwee Boon said, “Through the OCBC Scholarship Programme, we seek to develop and empower talented individuals who may face challenges in furthering their education due to financial pressures. By removing such barriers, our scholarships allow recipients to pursue their goals and aspirations to realise their full potential. Seeing many OCBC scholars, such as Janet, contribute to their respective industries and the community inspires us and drives us to support such meaningful programmes that create a lasting impact on society."

2023 Scholarship Cohort

One of this year’s recipients is Matthew Lim, 21, who lost his father to leukaemia when he was 12 years old. An aspiring lawyer and debater throughout school, he will be pursuing a law degree at the Singapore Management University (SMU). Matthew shared, “Choosing a career path is a challenging decision. The bond-free feature of the OCBC scholarship programme is particularly attractive as it allows me the flexibility to explore various paths, while also exposing me to the banking sector.”

Fellow recipient, Jovanna Yam, 19, aspires to be a piano teacher and will be pursuing a degree in instrumental and vocal teaching at NAFA. Jovanna shared, “My parents have always been supportive of my passion for music, making sacrifices to ensure that I can chase my dreams. The OCBC Scholarship enables me to focus on my aspirations while reducing the financial burden on my family.”

The 11 scholars, including Matthew and Jovanna, are part of this year’s cohort of twenty individuals from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China who were awarded the Bank’s scholarships. Apart from the bond- free scholarships, the Bank has another two scholarship programmes – OCBC Regional Undergraduate Scholarship and OCBC Postgraduate AI Scholarship. Recipients of these scholarships are required to serve in the Bank upon graduation.

More information on Mathew Lim, Jovanna Yam and the scholarships offered by OCBC can be found in Annex A.


Matthew Lim, 21

Losing his father when he was 12 years old had a profound impact on Matthew, shaping him to be independent and diligent so as not to worry his mother. He is an active volunteer, inspired by his mother who is a childcare teacher at a school for students with special needs.

Passionate about championing access to legal advice and representation for the vulnerable and marginalised members of the community, Matthew embarked on a full-time administrative volunteer position at Pro Bono SG upon the completion of his national service in February 2023. Utilising his strong writing and communication skills, he assisted the organisation in drafting case summaries for their pro bono lawyers. He currently volunteers at Pro Bono SG's new Community Law Centre at a Chinese temple in Hougang.

A self-taught guitarist, he was one of the student leaders that pioneered Junior College’s first Rock Band, a Student-Initiated Interest Group, in 2019.

Matthew will be pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) at SMU.

Jovanna Yam, 19

With years of musical training and experience performing, Jovanna Yam always had an interest in music since she was a child. At the age of 14, she attained the DipLCM in Piano Performance (Concert) diploma by the London College of Music Examinations.

Her parents, a bookkeeper father and homemaker mother, came from less well-off homes that could not afford to enrol them in music lessons. They therefore wanted to ensure that their children had the opportunity to. Since 2020, she has been freelancing as a piano teacher to reduce the financial burden on her family.

Throughout her musical journey, Jovanna encountered many supportive and motivating mentors who inspired her to follow in their footsteps. She is passionate about raising awareness and interest in homegrown music and has plans to explore Singapore’s busking scene with her sister, a freelance violinist.

Jovanna will be pursuing a Bachelor of Education (Hons) in Instrumental and Vocal Teaching at NAFA.

About the OCBC Regional Scholarship

Recipients of the OCBC Regional Undergraduate Scholarship may choose to pursue their postgraduate studies at selected universities in Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan under this scholarship. Tuition, allowances, accommodation, airfare and overseas exchange programme opportunities of up to S$75,000 annually are covered throughout the course of their studies. Upon graduation, they will serve at OCBC in their home country for the same number of years as the scholarship awarded.

About the OCBC AI Scholarship

The OCBC Postgraduate AI Scholarship was the first AI scholarship to be offered by a Singapore company, and the first by any bank in Asia. Worth up to S$100,000 each, and fully covering all educational and living expenses, the scholarship is designed to harness the potential of AI to deliver greater customer value and business scalability. It is open to applicants of either institution’s full-time master’s programme in Artificial Intelligence and fully covers all educational and living expenses. Upon graduation, scholars will serve at the OCBC AI Lab for between 12 to 18 months, where they will participate in the testing, deploying and scaling- up of bank-wide AI solutions.


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