… it’ll cost at least Nu 195 million by the time students graduate

KP Sharma

The education ministry will offer scholarships to the 395 Arts students who completed Class 12 in 2022 to study in the four colleges in the country.

This comes after the Cabinet approved the education ministry’s proposal to provide scholarships to Arts students this week.

The education and skills development ministry submitted the details of the admission capacity of the four colleges to the Cabinet on February 27.

The discontinuation of Arts programmes at Sherubtse College and College of Language and Culture Studies, the ministry said, had reduced the intake by 395 students this year.

According to the ministry’s proposal, Paro College of Education has the space and resources to accommodate 170 students.

The college enrols 170 students annually of which 100 are for B.Ed Primary and 70 for B.Ed Dzongkha courses.

As per the admission ceiling fixed by Royal University of Bhutan, Royal Thimphu College is allowed to admit only 610 students. However, the ministry said that it can accommodate additional 200 students.   

In the proposed allocation of the students, where it had budgeted for the placement of students, the ministry allocated 100 students to RTC.

Norbuling Rigter College in Paro can accommodate additional 60 students. The college currently admits about 370 students annually as per the ceiling fixed by RUB.

Apollo Bhutan Institute of Nursing in Thimphu can accommodate about 60 students, the ministry’s proposal stated. Currently, it has an annual intake of 150 students fixed by the Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC).

According to the education ministry, if the government decides to send students to all four institutes and as boarders in RTC and Norbuling Rigter College, it would cost Nu 244.92 million for 395 students for the entire course duration.

However, if the government supports only day-scholars in RTC and Norbuling Rigter College, the total scholarship budget amounts to Nu 195.36 million.

The Cabinet has directed the finance ministry to review, verify, and allocate the necessary fund.  The ministry is also instructed to discuss with the education ministry whether to support day-scholars or boarders.

The Cabinet has further asked the finance ministry to make provisions for the Arts students of 2023 after confirming the number of scholarships from the education ministry.

Welcoming the government’s decision, Chimi Wangmo, a recent Class XII Arts graduate, said the decision would be helpful to students like her who come from humble backgrounds and cannot afford to study in private colleges.

“I cannot think of studying in private colleges as my parents would not be in the position to afford the college fees for three years,” she said.

Another student Tshering said that she is overwhelmed by the news of the scholarship to study in colleges.  “This is another opportunity to pursue higher education and achieve my dreams.”

Like Chimi Wangmo and Tshering, many Arts students said that the decision is a relief for the students who had already lost hope and regretted their educational background.

As a part of reforms in tertiary education, the RUB has discontinued the Arts programmes at Sherubtse College and College of Language and Culture Studies beginning the academic year 2023.

This sudden decision has left many Arts students with no opportunities to continue their tertiary education in the RUB colleges. Instead, it has introduced three new degree programmes at Sherubtse College to which students who have not studied mathematics are ineligible to apply.