Education: In a move to facilitate higher education for economically disadvantaged students, the Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE) has selected 123 students for the student loan scheme for tertiary education, taking the total number to over 323 in three years.

This year over 200 students applied for the tertiary education loan scheme, which was started in 2014. After much sorting out 123 economically disadvantaged students were selected.

“The students were asked to come with their parents and guardians for agreement signing and verification,” DAHE chief programme officer, Rinzin Wangmo said.

The loan will be released in two segments as tuition fees and living allowances.

The rests of the 200 applicants didn’t qualify because the loan committee found that their parents could afford higher studies without taking loans. “A few also withdrew after getting selected for scholarships,” Rinzin Wangmo said.

With this year’s intake over 323 students have availed the loan scheme since 2014. Last year around 110 students were selected for the loan.

Annually, the ministry’s target is to take in 100 students. “But 123 were selected this year as replacement for those students for whom the loans were discontinued after failing in the first semester,” Rinzin Wangmo said.

Similarly, 110 were taken last year because only around 90 students could avail the scheme in 2014, since it started quite late. The ministry is projecting to provide interest free education loan to 350 students in four years time, starting 2014-2018.

While the students can study in India as well as in Bhutan, most students have preferred to pursue their studies in the colleges inside the country. As of now only 20 students have applied to study in India.

But this year all 123 students have preferred studying in colleges within the country. Around 29 recipients of tertiary education loan this year have applied to study in the Gaeddu College of Business Studies.

The rest have applied to study in Sherubtse College, College of Science and Technology, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Royal Thimphu College, College of Natural Resources and the Reldri Academy of Health Sciences, among others.

Recently, the education minister Norbu Wangchuk responding to questions from National Council and National Assembly members said that in order to give continued support for underprivileged students in their pursuit to tertiary education, the government has allocated Nu 37.62 million in the current fiscal year.

“This particular scheme has benefited the children of underprivileged immensely to help realise their educational dreams,” Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said to parliament in his response to his colleagues’ questions.

Meanwhile, the ministry is yet to decide on how to get the students whose loans were discontinued after failing in first semester repay their loans and when. The ministry is in the process of compiling the data on the number of students whose loans were discontinued.

The ministry however considers “back paper” cases. “The loans are released for those students with back paper,” Rinzin Wangmo said.

Source: [Tempa Wangdi], [Kuensel]

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