Nur Ellisha Mokthar

Student earns scholarship from Nilai U for pre-university programme

Nur Ellisha Mokthar speaks confidently and with an authority that is rarely seen in teenagers. The 18-year from Tawau, Sabah puts it down to her involvement with her school debating team as well as being actively involved in public speaking engagements. The former student of SMK Tawau, Sabah is a recipient of a High Achievers scholarship from Nilai University which covers 100% of her tuition and accommodation fees. Though she was granted the scholarship based on her sterling SPM results (she scored 9As), Nur Ellisha is certain that her extra-curricular activities played a role in securing her the award. That is why she is keen to stress to current secondary school students to put in plenty of time and effort with their extra-curricular activities if they are hoping to secure scholarships. “I believe it makes a big difference. Although I was given a scholarship based on my (SPM) results, I am pretty sure my extra-curricular activities made me stand out from the other applicants. Besides, my involvement in public speaking engagements as well as the school debating team has helped me be a confident speaker, which certainly helped during the interview process,” she says.

Besides putting in the necessary hours in extra-curricular activities, Nur Ellisha says it is imperative that secondary school students do the necessary research about the programmes they wish to pursue and also which institution they want to apply to. “It would be useful if students have an idea which programmes they wish to pursue. They can then focus on institutions that have the relevant programmes and the students will know what is required of them, both in terms of entry grades as well as costs,” she explains succinctly. The young lass is targeting a degree in either biotechnology or chemical engineering. This is based on the fact that both biology and chemistry happened to be her favourite subjects in school and she consistently scored good grades. 

She has chosen to enroll in Nilai U’s Foundation in Science programme to help her achieve her dreams. “I took this course because it represents the fastest route into the degree of my choice,” she states. “Aside from the scholarship, I chose Nilai U because it has a BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology.” Should the opportunity to study abroad arise, Nur Ellisha is confident that the Foundation programme will be accepted having seen the “long list” of partner universities abroad which recognise this qualification. Another factor was that the programme is a mixture of exams and course work. “I didn’t want to do A-levels because everything hinges on exams. What if I am unwell on the day? It could ruin all my hard work,” she says. 

When asked about the secret of her academic success, Nur Ellisha says there is no substitute for hard work. She also recommends study groups as it is less boring and also allows students to benefit from each person’s strong points.  As for her own study methods, she says that she studies in short 30 minute bursts with 10-minute breaks in between to alleviate the monotony. “It might be a little idiosyncratic but it works for me,” she smiles. Given her assured demeanour and academic record thus far, it would be no surprise if she ends up in the top end of her class. 

All Nilai U programmes are validated by the Minstry fo Education and accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. The latter organization also rates Nilai U as ‘Setara 5 / Excellent’. For more information, please go to or call 06-8502308 / 07-2262336 / 03-79603089.