Tiong Ngee Derk

Matriculation year: 2017

Degree: PhD in Education


"I was awarded the Tunku PhD scholarship from 201720. Although the financial component of the offer lapsed when I subsequently accepted the Khazanah-Cambridge award, the Tunku fund nonetheless supported my fieldwork expenses and I have had the honour of being part of the Tunku scholars’ community.

"I did my PhD under Dr Riikka Hofmann at the Faculty of Education, studying the role of collaborative discussion in Malaysian teachers’ professional learning. In particular, my research explores how schoolteachers collectively made sense of and negotiated discrepancies in their daily experiences, as encountered in the classroom and the wider institution of schooling—with implications for the theory of learning as well as educational policy and practice.

"I am currently lecturing and supervising part-time at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Malaya. Besides that, I am spending the year disseminating my doctoral work through journals and doing freelance educational consulting for charities and EdTech start-ups."

Life at Catz

"Besides the obvious plus-point of being plugged into the Tunku community, I developed great friendships at Catz. I particularly miss Diaz and Sam from housekeeping, and Sarah from the library, and hope to see them again someday. My wife and I often attended the Kellaway concerts and could be spotted having fish and chips for lunch in the dining hall on Friday afternoons."

Advice for potential applicants

"Lean into your discipline, stay curious and keep on learning with an open mind. Look for mentors with the appropriate expertise and ethical stance. In my experience, cleverness is only a small part of being successful in academia—much of it comes down to dedication, mentorship, the right blend of confidence and humility, and sometimes being in the right place at the right time."