A BELLSHILL man has landed a prestigious scholarship from the Taiwanese government to study at one of the top universities in Asia.
Richard Mooney will study for a Master’s Degree in International Communications at National Chengchi University in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.
The 26-year-old applied for the scholarship - one of only four awarded in the UK each year - after meeting his Taiwanese partner Erin Chen while working in Saudi Arabia.
The scholarship will pay for most of Richard’s tuition and give him a monthly stipend and as well as his university studies he also plans to learn Chinese while he’s in Taiwan.
Born in Bellshill, Richard - who also spent one year in New Zealand as a child - went to Lawmuir Primary and Bellshill Academy before going on to study journalism at Bell College.
He said: “The scholarship is very competitive. They award the Taiwan Scholarship to ‘outstanding international students’ with an excellent academic record and solid professional experience.
“The Taiwanese government gave only four scholarships to the entire UK this year so it was a huge personal honour for me to get such an award.
“My mum Sharon, dad Richard, and sister Gail were so proud and happy for me. It’s a chance to live again in another culture and country.”
Richard decided to head east - or, rather further east - during a two-year stint working at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
“Being with Erin and the environment at KAUST inspired me to further my own education abroad and when I found out about the good reputation of Taiwanese schools and the English-taught programs, I thought I’d apply and give it a go.
“I got accepted to my Master’s programme, the International Master’s in Communication Studies, which is also very competitive. It admits only 10-12 international students and around 12 Taiwanese for each class year.
“National Chengchi University is Taiwan’s best media college and also one of the top schools in the region. After the degree I’d like to stay in the Asia Pacific region and continue my journalism career, whilst also teaching media and writing.
“However, right now Taiwan is great and I’m just enjoying being here.”