RCSC scholarship bonds may not hold young ambitions

The attrition rate has created manpower shortages in schools, hospitals, etc. The demand for skilled workers is high, and the hope is pinned of the scholarship recipients to return to Bhutan completing their studies.

Top of the public concern is for students pursuing B.Sc. Nursing to return home so the shortage of nurses is resolved. Furthermore, some people believe that not returning to Bhutan indicates a misuse of the government’s funds, and opportunities should be given to students who are willing to sign an agreement that requires individuals to return to Bhutan.

As per RCSC’s record, scholarships have been granted since the inception of DAHE in 2003.

This year RCSC announced 106 undergraduate scholarship opportunities for the academic session 2024-2025, both within and outside the country. The eligibility criteria specified that all class 12 graduates of 2023, except repeaters, were eligible to apply.

While RCSC ensures that most scholarship students do return to Bhutan upon completion of their studies, challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and academic setbacks have led to delays for some students.

 Concerns have emerged regarding students not fulfilling their commitment to return, prompting suggestions for agreements mandating their repatriation.

According to RCSC, the undergraduate scholarships are administered by RCSC based on the civil service reform as per UG operation Guidelines-2023, all scholarship awardees are required to sign an agreement with RCSC, which involves financial obligation and requirement for reimbursement to the government according to the terms and conditions of the agreement. As such, most Scholarship awardees do return to Bhutan and join the civil service and serve the country.

Furthermore, RCSC says, “If scholarship recipients do not return, they are obligated to reimburse the government according to the agreements they have signed.”

RCSC notes that they cover a range of expenses including settlement allowance, stipend, tuition fees, airfare, and others, particularly for courses like MBBS and B.Sc. Nursing, which vary based on the types, duration of courses they undertake, and place of study.

When asked about any plans in the future to address the attrition rate, RCSC said, “Retention of students studying MBBS requires a multi-prolonged approach, however, from the RCSC side, we will continue with the strict administration of bond signing and monitoring which is within our control in addition to encouraging them to continue serving our country in these critical times.”

The Bhutanese reached out to students who received government scholarships through DAHE, where they said they have to sign 12-year service bond.

Furthermore, if they choose not to go according to the signed agreement, they have to pay three times the amount of the scholarship funds the RCSC provided after completing 5 years of service.

While many of them are willing to come back and serve the nation, there are some students who wish to explore and pursue higher education abroad by paying the bond.

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