Many families are unhappy with what they feel is an unfair student loan policy formulated by the National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF).
Students who score an aggregate of below 60% are not eligible for the Nu 0.5mn student loan offered by the organization.
Apart from this, only students taking certain courses such as business studies, law, medicine, computer and information technology, forestry, architecture and aeronautical engineering can avail the loans.
Economics, professional courses and vocational training students also qualify for student loans while BA courses till now were not granted any loans except for mass media and journalism.
According to an official from the organization, NPPF decided to provide selective loans looking at the job prospects in the country.
However, some parents feel that students scoring marks above 60% have every chance of being absorbed in the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) colleges and those who need the loan are the poor performers.
“Students scoring less than 60% and coming from a middle class family are those who seek student loans but they are refused”, said a frustrated Chorten Tshering, whose son scored 53%.
Chorten Tshering came all the way from Trongsa hoping to get a student loan for his son’s tertiary studies but his proposal was turned down.
“As civil servants, we are also the stake holders of NPPF and it is the only alternative we have to educate our children,” he added.
His proposal for the Nu 0.2mn education loan was also turned down because it is meant only for students below class XII.
Similarly, a teacher from Wangdue Lower Secondary School wanted to avail a loan for her brother but she was turned down on grounds that BA (Eng/Evs) students are not eligible for the loan.
“They didn’t even ask my brother’s scores,” she said, “I could not understand the reason for lending to only selected students because at the end, everyone will repay the loans.”
However, Tshoki Lhamo from NPPF said that the courses which can avail loans are not yet segregated.
“We are planning to try this at least for a year,” she added explaining that NPPF grants loans for selective subjects for fear that the loans will not be refunded if the students remain unemployed.
But some parents say that they have mortgages and the guarantors who are at risk.
“Getting loans from other financial institutions are expensive and they have every right to set their own rules unlike NPPF which has contributions from the public and is obliged to be impartial,” said Chorten Tshering.
The other reason cited by NPPF for allowing the loans only to certain students was fear of fund misuse to which a few parents replied that the loan gets remitted directly to the colleges.
Parents who are at their wits’ ends feel that deducting their monthly salaries to repay the loans would be better if the organization does not trust their children.
However, Tshoki Lhamo said that plans are on to review the student loan schemes.
A total of around 100 students were released loans amounting to Nu 30 mn this year.