Students who obtained more than 9A+ in the SPM examinations can apply for the 20 Public Services Department scholarships on offer, said the PSD director-general Zainal Rahim.
This comes after opposition leaders claim that the 9A+ requirement penalises students who took on 10 subjects but failed to obtain a A+ for the additional subject.
"All students who achieve at least 9A+ can apply," he said in a statement.
The "9A+ sponsorship" replaces the PSD bursary which was open to high-performing students who have graduated from pre-university courses.
The new scholarship is only for pre-university studies and bachelor's degree at a local public or private institution.
The top 20 SPM students will automatically receive scholarships to enroll for their bachelor's degree at the top 10 universities in the world, based on the QS World University Ranking.
PSD also offers scholarships for students pursuing bachelor's degrees in engineering in Japan, South Korea, France and Germany.
"However, those pursuing their studies in science and technology and social sciences in Japan, South Korea, France and Germany may be considered (for sponsorship)," he said.
He said the new sponsorship model prioritises merit and inclusiveness, with a focus on the lower and middle income group, encourage vocational education and training, ensure the development of Malaysia as an education hub and ensure government return on investment.
According to its website, PSD scholars are bonded to government service.
They must return 25 percent of the funds if they opt to work in a government-linked company upon graduation.
They must return half the value of the scholarship if they work in a private sector in Malaysia or the entire sum if they work abroad or are unemployed, within a stipulated period after graduation.- Mkini