Students without Mathematics background struggle to get admission in Colleges

Arts students are finding themselves marginalized and restricted in their pursuit of higher education opportunities. With a minimum of seats given to students without a Mathematics background in the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) colleges, the aspirations of Arts students are being severely constrained.

According to RUB, some of the admissions for class 12 pass-outs will open from 1 March and end on 15 March, while some colleges will open admission from 5 April and close on 5 May.

In the colleges under RUB, almost all the given courses require that a student should have a minimum of 55 percent score in Mathematics. The courses that do not require a Mathematics background are much less for the students with dry Arts as Science and Commerce students are eligible to apply in almost all the courses, leading to a low rank.

In an interview with Arts students, Prena, who is also applying for online admission into RUB colleges, she said that she decided to drop Maths in class 11 as her interest was in the humanities program, and she believes that Maths was not relevant to her interest.

Furthermore, she says, “I don’t regret dropping Maths, if Science and Commerce stop taking the Arts courses there won’t be any complications further. It is not that Arts don’t have scope; it is all taken by Science and Commerce students.”

Deki Yangzom also believes that the courses related to Arts students should be solely kept for the Arts students rather than allowing Commerce and Science students to apply. She added, “We took Arts with interest, but in today’s world, they only focus on what Science and Commerce can do by completely neglecting Arts which has been the reason everything exists.”

Another student reported that even though she decided to drop Maths, it was not that she wanted to, but in the school where she was studying, there were very few students who were willing to take Mathematics that could not make a full class, so she had to drop the subject.

The voices of the Arts students state a common sentiment of choosing Arts out of interest, only to find themselves at a disadvantage due to the dominance of Science and Commerce streams. Furthermore, most of the students say that they were only able to apply to Paro College of Education and Samtse College of Education.

Colleges under RUB that offer courses for Arts students without Mathematics background is Paro College of Education, which will offer about 205 seats under higher education grants, whereas Samtse College of Education will offer 30 seats under government scholarships and the rest 5 for self-financed students. Royal Thimphu College will offer roughly about 200 seats considering that preferences will be given to Science stream students and courses like Bachelor of Sports and Health Sciences to students who have recognized certificates from sports agencies.

In total, only about 450 seats are available for students without a Mathematics background if they wish to apply to colleges under RUB. However, in those 450 seats, the Science students who do not get their course or wish to take Arts courses are eligible to do so. The dry Arts students due to the lack of Mathematics in class 12 are not allowed to apply in other courses that require Maths.

From our previous news coverage of the uncertainty of where the Arts students are heading, the Education Minister, Yeezang D Thapa, responded that MoESD will plan to make the education sector such that the students get more opportunities. She also mentioned that courses and streams should be organized such that it helps individuals to align with the jobs in the market with the added benefit of upskilling the students’ skills.

The government’s emphasis on aligning courses with market demands and upskilling students is commendable, but it must also address the plight of Arts students who are being left behind. The Education Minister’s commitment to creating more opportunities is promising, but concrete actions are needed to ensure equal access to higher education for all.

The academic result of BHSEC 2023 shows that 13,700 students appeared and 11,234 students passed. Estimating the slots available in the colleges of Bhutan, it is certain that with given preferences to Science and Commerce students, the Arts students’ struggle to get admission will raise a lot of concerns. While some may apply to colleges that are not under RUB colleges, some Arts students are already planning to study abroad, some to join Gyalsung, and some with no options but to repeat or drop out.

As the number of Arts students far exceeds the available seats in colleges, urgent measures are required to prevent this crisis of opportunities for these aspiring individuals.

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