This year, the Scholarship and Student Support Division (SSSD) under Adult and Higher Education Department (AHED) with the Ministry of Education (MoE) has decided not to send any students funded by the government to study in India, in order to “ease the flow of rupee,” according to division officials.
Unlike in the past, no students will go to study in India under government funding. Instead, they will be sent to third countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Malaysia and even to the United States of America (USA).
The chief with the SSSD, Babu Ram Sherpa said this system will be followed hereafter.
Out of the total of 117 students registered for studies in India, 102 are funded by the Government of India (GoI).
However, students funded by the GoI will continue their studies in India.
Apart from not sending the scholarship students to India, the Higher Education and Planning Division (HEPD) also under AHED is reviewing a few proposals of establishing private colleges in the country.
The review is being done to ensure that the colleges meet required standards.
An official from HEPD said coming up with more private colleges will retain more students in the country and help reduce the rupee outflow.
“It will also give better access to tertiary education and there will be less movement of our students to other countries,” she added.
Observers have noted that the National Pension and Provident Fund’s (NPPF) policy of providing student loans and the very less intake of students in colleges within the country leads to more outflow of money.
Therefore people feel that more private colleges should come up.
Currently, 368 students sent through SSSD are studying in India, out of which 59 are funded by the government and the rest by GoI.
There are 15 students registered with SSSD who will be sent to India through RGoB funding this year to commemorate the royal wedding.
These students are registered under ‘Queen’s Endowment for Cultural Studies’, and will be learning Sanskrit, Fine Arts and Herbal Medicines.
The government spends approximately Nu 62,000 every year for each student to pay for their rent, books and monthly stipend excluding tuition fees that differ from one college to another.
According to Babu Ram Sherpa, students pursuing studies in the field of medicine, biological sciences and engineering were also sent to India.
Today there are about 3,100 members registered with the Bhutanese Students’ Association (BSA) who spend around Nu 0.1 mn each year on their studies.
A total of Nu 10,000 has to be paid per student registered with the BSA every year.
Jigme Namgyel, a Bhutanese student studying in university in Andhra Pradesh, feels that the rupee crunch is affecting students who spend lavishly.
“The withdrawal of money from Punjab National Bank (PNB) is restricted to Nu 10,000 per day,” he said.
However, most of them are not affected as they do not spend more than that amount within a period of time.
Kinley Gyeltshen, a trainee at the National Defence Academy (NDA), said that students funded by the government are unaffected.
In addition to that, the government contributes funds according to the activities they undertake in their colleges.
The only long-term solution to the problem seems to be coming up of more private colleges.
HEPD which facilitates and supports those who have proposed to come up with private colleges are encouraging people to do so.
According to the chief program officer for HEPD, the review of the proposals for private colleges will take some time before being finalized. The report on balance of payment and the rupee shortage says that there’s outflow of Rs 1 bn due to private education. Hence, there is an urgent need for the MoE to facilitate the development of private tertiary colleges in Bhutan, states the report.