Government-funded undergraduate scholarship programme has significantly increased over the last five years while self-funding for the same has decreased, according to the labour ministry’s Beyond Graduation Survey (BGS) 2017 report.

The reports showed that government funded programme increased from 699 in 2013 to 755 in 2014 and 1,026 in 2017. While graduates who completed their studies on private funding decreased to 35.75 percent in 2017 from 50.95 percent in 2014.

The first BGS was carried out in 2013 as part of the second National Human Resource Development Advisory development. The labour ministry initiated the survey to profile and assess post-graduation outcome and perception of the graduate pool entering the labour market.

The report stated that India continues to be the most popular destination for higher education for Bhutanese pursuing under-graduate courses.

It found that a higher number of males have graduated from ex-country colleges while a higher number of females have graduated from in-country colleges.

The report, which was released on March 8 on their website, stated that the findings could be used by policy makers and tertiary education stakeholders for necessary HRD intervention in employment and education sectors.

A total of 1,781 graduates participated in the survey, which is 78.8 percent of the graduates who attended the National Graduates Orientation Programme in 2017. Of the total, 13.76 percent are residents of Trashigang followed by the capital (8.82 percent), and 7.92 percent from Pemagatshel.

A comparative study was conducted between 2014 and 2017 survey outcomes to assess changes in the last four years.

Some of the key findings are that there is equal percentage of male and female graduates entering the labour market in 2017. Increase in government-funded scholarship indicates overall increase in access to in-country tertiary education. Better employment opportunities and interest in the field of study/degree are some of the factors that determine choice of degree programme.

The report stated that majority of the graduates were those with business management, arts and humanities and ICT degree in 2014 while in 2017, a majority of graduates is those with arts and humanities degree.

The main choice of degree is business management (38.6 percent) among the self-funded candidates, while 34.5 percent prefer Arts and humanities, and 17.3 percent opts for engineering courses.

While those who studied in Bhutan preferred Arts and humanities (48.4 percent) followed by 26.7 percent opting for business management, and 10 percent opted for Science.

However, there was a decrease in the number of graduates with business management and ICT degree, which can be attributed to higher unemployment among these trades in the last few years, the report states.

“The 2017 survey indicates that only 29 individuals pursued ICT degree, which constitutes only 1.63 percent of the overall graduates,” the report stated. “The decrease could be attributed to the unemployment issue faced by ICT graduates in the last few years.”

The report stated that this could indicate that higher secondary graduates respond to labour market dynamics and employment opportunities while opting for degree of their choice. “There is a need for specified and advance degree in ICT field to respond to future labour market needs.”

The report examined factors such as advice from parents or guardians, influence of friends, relatives studying in the same programme or college, reputation of the college, interest in the field, motivation to improve income, and higher employment prospect.

“Less importance is placed on factors such as influence of friends or relatives studying in college or programme, which indicates students are careful in selecting the programme,” the report states. “Parents’ advise, employment opportunity, interest in the field and reputation of the college has played a major role.”

Yangchen C Rinzin