Says, guidelines mandate the fair to be held once a year

The Seventh Bhutan International Education Fair has been deferred indefinitely after the Department of Adult and Higher Education’s (DAHE) did not approve the fair, states a notification from the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) on March 12.

BCCI has been conducting the fair since 2011, bringing in different institutions, colleges and universities from within as well as abroad to give students a choice.

Secretary General of BCCI, Phub Tshering, said that although BCCI has received approval from the Election Commission of Bhutan to hold the education fair on March 30 and 31, BCCI has not been able to conduct the fair due to non-approval from DAHE.

Phub Tshering said that if DAHE does not approve the proposal for the fair, students who are currently trying to go to universities abroad would have limited choice. “If the universities are not here, students will not get the information as a result of which they will not be able to find universities and avail scholarships that are offered.”

However, in a telephone interview with DAHE’s director Kesang Choden Dorji said that as per the consultancy firms’ guidelines, education fair can be conducted only once a year. “As per scheduled, DAHE together with the economic affairs ministry decided that the education fair was conducted in February this year.”

Education fairs have to go through the economic affairs ministry and DAHE for approval.

Kesang Choden Dorji said that the education consultancy firms who are the main agents in providing and sending students on scholarships abroad had scheduled the fair in April every year. However, due to the elections this year, the education consultancy firms had requested the fair be held on February.

She said that the universities participating in the fair have to be screened to ensure quality, and that this screening process could not be done every month.

A BCCI official said that March is an ideal time to hold the fair as all the government intakes are completed and students who did not get selected would be looking for opportunities abroad.

Phub Tshering said that BCCI as an apex body not only gives opportunity to international universities but also to national consultancy firms to participate in the fair.

The official added that the universities from abroad knowing that the fair is an annual event were waiting for BCCI to conduct the event and had not participated in the education fair conducted in February. ‘‘There are also some firms who did not join the fair in February intentionally thinking that they will participate in the BCCI education fair.”

About 24 national and international universities have already registered with the BCCI to participate in the seventh education fair.

BCCI also has about seven Memorandum of Understanding signed with various institutes and universities in Thailand, Australia and India.

Last year, 52 universities and colleges from six countries including Bhutan had participated in the sixth international education fair.

This excludes the universities that comes through the consultancy firms.

Karma Cheki