A total of 850 students were granted Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund awards and scholarships at a presentation ceremony held recently at the Sha Tin Town Hall. Lady Youde, who presented the scholarships, praised the students for winning the awards despite the strong competition. 'I am sure you will join me in congratulating our scholars, fellows and award winners on their success and thanking their parents, school principals and teachers. 'They have had the responsibility of bringing up these young people to be responsible individuals and of helping them to achieve academic excellence,' she said. 'They have also encouraged them to develop an interest in community affairs and a clear vision of their goals and a firm commitment to Hong Kong.' In pursuing its objective to encourage and promote education and learning among young people in Hong Kong, the fund disbursed a total of $11.3 million in the 1995-96 academic year. Awards given included 14 awards for overseas studies; three medals for students who have obtained outstanding results in public examinations; 22 awards for disabled students; 82 scholarships for diploma and undergraduate students; 44 fellowships for post-graduate students, and 682 prizes for senior secondary school students. An exclusive $600,000 sponsorship of the Young Friends of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Scheme was continued in the 1995-96 year with the aim of increasing secondary school students' exposure to and knowledge of the performing arts. For the first time, a visiting professorship scheme which aims to promote cultural exchange between Hong Kong and other parts of the world was launched. Competition for the overseas fellowships and scholarships for 1996-97 was keen. Twelve brilliant students were chosen from among 297 applicants for the awards. They each received a maximum of $218,000 and $200,000 a year for a fellowship award and a scholarship award respectively. These students are required to return to work in Hong Kong for at least three years upon completion of their studies. An overseas award exclusively for disabled students was presented to Luk Wai-yip, a visually-impaired graduate who plans to pursue a Master's degree in music in the United States. 'The award came as a nice surprise. The scholarship will certainly help me realise my dream,' the 29-year-old scholar said. A total of $492,530 was set aside for the Award Scheme for Disabled Students, which provided 22 students with financial assistance. This year also saw 26 postgraduate students being awarded local fellowships of $38,000 each and 82 undergraduate/diploma students being awarded local scholarships of $22,000 each. Since its inception, the fund has supported more than 6,340 Hong Kong students.