Taylor’s University has clarified that contrary to popular belief, the “social influencer” requirement for its Talent Scholarship does not equate to “social media influencer”.
In a statement to A+M, a spokesperson for Taylor’s University said it refers to individuals who champion social objectives and have the power to influence others to follow or join them in their course. Additionally, applicants must perform well academically.
The clarification comes after the university recently caused a stir online, when one of the requirements for its Talent Scholarship was interpreted as targeting “social influencers”. Screenshots of the application form were also shared online, which allegedly called for social influencers or YouTube content creators to share their profile, page or channel URLs.
Addressing the form, the spokesperson said: “The scholarship form that is available in our website may have suggested an incorrect example of a social influencer.” She added:
To clear the confusion and for future reference, we are changing the term to ‘social advocate’.
A quick check by A+M also found that the term “social influencer” on Taylor’s website has been changed to “social advocate”. The spokesperson said that the scholarship was launched last December to recognise “exceptional talents” in a wide range of areas such as music, drama, sports and social influencers.
The spokesperson said that out of the 10 recipients of the Talent Scholarship, only one qualified as a social influencer. According to the spokesperson, the recipient launched a social initiative called “Where Holistic Experiences Empower” in 2013 and has a strong academic record.
This issue has left some netizens outraged that influencers were being considered alongside students who require financial aid to further their studies. Meanwhile, others have called the backlash an overreaction, defending influencers who are creative and talented but not financially able to afford an education. Founder of local YouTube channel JinnyboyTV, Jin Lim, also tweeted that one no longer needs to study hard these days to get a scholarship as one just needs to be a social media influencer.