KP Sharma

With the limited government scholarship opportunities, the arts students who couldn’t secure college admissions in the Royal University of Bhutan are now looking for greener pastures outside the country. 

TandinWangdi repeated class XII twice with the hope of getting enrolled in one of the colleges within the country. With his dreams cut short, he is planning to go abroad. “Unfortunately, many courses previously available to arts students were discontinued,” he said.

A class twelve graduate who is currently running a part-time business expressed his intention to pursue studies abroad, citing better opportunities after completing his education.

He said that although his marks were much better than those of the students who were admitted to prestigious colleges in the previous years, he did not get the opportunity to pursue his higher education.

Sangay Dema in Thimphu said that she recently took the IELTS exam after she did not get the scholarships she had been waiting for. She explained that she had never considered going abroad before but the situation compelled her to consider it as her friends have also seen it as the only option.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a girl who has recently journeyed to Australia said that she had never wanted to leave Bhutan but the sudden change in plan was driven by the lack of opportunities at home.

“My family members fully supported my decision.”

The government offered over 350 scholarships mainly in colleges of education in Paro and Samtse, where certain students could not get the opportunity due to the lack of required subjects and some even cancelled the scholarships as they have no interest in pursuing a career in teaching. 

It is learnt that some students who were previously admitted to teaching programmes through scholarships have chosen to withdraw and instead pursue other courses in private colleges, both within and outside.

One of the students, NamgayRinchen who initially secured admission in teaching, has chosen to withdraw from it and has instead enrolled in a private college with a half scholarship. He stated that he decided to withdraw his admission from the teaching programme as he believes there are better prospects in other courses than in teaching. He added that initially, he had to secure admission to teaching because he was uncertain about getting a seat in a private college.

While a few students have changed their direction to pursue better opportunities, some with impressive marks were still unable to enroll in the teaching programme.

There are still individuals who find themselves unable to afford the options of moving abroad or enrolling in private colleges due to their background.

A few shared their current paths—technical and vocational institute (TVET) programmes, start-ups, and a few others have decided to stay in villages and pursue agriculture.

Despite the government’s claim of being fair to the students, there are still widespread questions and blame on the sudden decision which is believed to have shattered the dreams and aspirations of the arts students.

People argue that while reforms are necessary over time, they should be implemented gradually, without impacting the career prospects of many young people. 

They strongly believe that the government could have announced this decision a year or two earlier, allowing the students to make informed choices.