Firstly, a very Happy New Year to everyone. If your children were with you over the holiday, I hope it was a splendid time for everyone. They have now returned, ready and eager for the challenge of Cambridge exams that lie ahead a few months down the road.
During the period away from KYUEM, I spent some time reflecting on the momentous and often bewildering events of 2016. Like many other Brits, I assumed that the referendum on the UK's continuing membership of the EU would produce a positive result. We all know now that the opposite happened. Towards the end of the year, all the pundits were assuring us that the US would have its first female president. We are now likely to see at least four years with Mr. Trump at the helm.
Uncertainty is never a pleasant concept. We all like to know (or think we know) what the future has in store for us. I believe there is an ancient curse that says "May you live in interesting times," and that is surely true for the world in 2017. I was recently at home in Cyprus where children of friends who have been applying for UK universities have been told that EU fees can only be guaranteed for the first twelve months of a Bachelor's degree. Even my own status in Cyprus as an EU citizen cannot now be assumed to last, despite being married to a Greek Cypriot. As I say, uncertainty surrounds many of the events of the year ahead of us.
Home student fees have never been an issue for Malaysian young people applying to the UK. However, with the current financial instability and fluctuating exchange rates, who's to say what the knock-on effect of Brexit will be in this region? All we can do is work hard to get the best results we can. We must aim for the best institutions of higher education and hope and pray that common sense prevails around the world.
There are always optimistic signs. As I write this, I have just heard that we now have eleven provisional places for Oxford and Cambridge this year - that's more than last, and we may yet get others. Shortly, many of our students will be hearing about other applications to prestigious institutions. In a changing and uncertain world, it is always wise to aim for the best educational advancement one can get. I wish all our young people every success in their endeavours this semester.