Yangyel Lhaden 

The ex-country scholarship students are excited but worried at the same time.

The question is: would they be able to go to their universities?

One of the scholarship recipients, Tshering Eden, is compiling her travel documents and waiting for her I-20 visa. Travel restrictions are yet to open. “I am supposed to join my university in the USA by August 24.”

Like Tshering Eden, there are 142 ex-country scholarship students (cohort 2020) who are waiting for situations to get better.

Raju Tamang, who is supposed to go to a university in Canada, is making the most of his time by working as a part-timer in Paro. He said that he would continue working until he is able to go to college.

An official with the Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE) said that admissions of new students have already been processed so that students would be able to go as soon as the situation improves.

The academic session for new students in India starts from September; for Sri Lanka it is between November and December; and in Bangladesh in January. Officials from DAHE said that admission for third countries have been processed for the fall and spring intake hoping that the situations would improve by then.

The academic session for ex-countries is yet to commence. If Covid-19 situation and travel restrictions prolong, officials from DAHE said that in the worst-case scenario the new students’ academic session could begin online.

“However, this decision will depend on how situation evolves and as per government’s directive,” a DAHE official said.

How Covid-19 is handled differs from country to country, which poses myriad challenges for Bhutanese students to be sent abroad, said a DAHE official. “Some countries have managed very well and educational institutions are beginning to open.  In some countries, though, especially in India, the situation is worsening which has direct impact on students which hinders them from joining colleges on time.”

However, DAHE officials said that once selected, scholarships would remain valid but all entry requirements such as valid IELT must be met by the students to secure the admission.

The scholarship students who have returned in the country are undergoing online classes. Thirty-seven medical students from Sri Lanka have conducted exam from Bhutan.