The National Universities Commission (NUC) on Monday said that 449 candidates met the criteria for selection for the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for innovation and development.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, made the statement in Abuja when he visited Chams centre where the candidates wrote the Presidential Special Scholarship Aptitude Test.
"Of the 449 candidates who are writing the test this year, we are only going to take 100 students from the best of the best," he said.
Okojie said the scheme was part of efforts to achieve the goals of Vision 20:2020 and the Transformation Agenda
"Federal Government has plans to develop a critical mass of professionals, who will serve as catalysts of change and agents of scientific and technological advancement.
"This sustainable economic development will be achieved through the sponsorship of these outstanding students for postgraduate studies in the top 25 universities in the world.
"This means that it is only those candidates who are graduates of the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 academic sessions that qualify for this particular selection," he said
Okojie said that the selection was based on graduates who had obtained First Class degrees from recognised and approved universities.
He said that this would be in the areas of Sciences, Medicine, Basic Medical Sciences, Engineering, Economics, Special aspects of Biology, Nuclear Physics, Quantitative Genetics, Medical Biochemistry, Aeronautical engineering, among others.
According to him, the test would be held annually with 100 students qualifying for the scheme for innovation and development.
He said once these students finished their courses, they were expected to come back with entrepreneurial skills to work.
"They will work for the system as the next generation of academics for five years after which the Federal Government would allow them to be on their own," Okojie said.
He added that opportunity, by way of allotment of 2 per cent of the scholarship seats, would be given to people with disability who hold First Class degrees.
Okojie, however, debunked the claims that the criteria used for selection was a deliberate policy to marginalise some candidates from some parts of the country.
He said that the scholarship was for only students who applied and were qualified to be shortlisted for the test and stressed that the scholarship was not only for a group of people from particular states.
"That is why the membership of the committee of the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme comprises professors who made First Class from the six geopolitical zones so that there is nothing like marginalisation," he said.