Research & Publications


Higher education scholarships as a soft power tool: an analysis of its role in the EU and Singapore

The EU Centre has published a new working paper (No. 23) by Mr Charles Chia Sheng-Kai (Intern at the EU Centre from September 13-February 14) entitled “Higher education scholarships as a soft power tool: an analysis of its role in the EU and Singapore”.

A free copy of this paper can be downloaded here.


The European Union and Singapore are vastly different entities, each with its own regional and global priorities and policies. Both actors employ a range of tools and instruments to aid in their foreign policy objectives, including in the projection of their soft power. It is worth analysing and comparing the specific instruments of these two actors’ soft power strategies, including but not limited to their stated objectives and perceived effectiveness. This paper will compare the role of higher education and scholarships in diffusing soft power through a comparative case study of the Erasmus Mundus scholarship program and the Singapore Scholarship administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will look at the ways in which these programs have shaped the standing of the actors in diffusing their norms and objectives in the regional and international arena. A comparative analysis of these programs will hopefully provide some insight into the proximity between foreign policy-making and higher education internationalisation. This paper will begin with an overview of the aforementioned programs and related schemes, before dissecting and comparing the intent and the policy-making processes behind these, and concludes with a discussion on the present and future role of higher education as a strategic soft power tool.