Education: With the first EducationUSA reference centre in the country, Bhutanese students who wish to study in the United States of America (USA) can now have access to accurate, current, and comprehensive information about educational institutions in the USA.

The first secretary for exchanges and education with the American Centre in New Delhi, Matthew K Asada, inaugurated the centre located at the Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE) in Thimphu yesterday.

DAHE’s director general, Tshewang Tandin, said that the USA is one of the sought after destinations for Bhutanese students.

“The small centre will guide the Bhutanese students who go for studies in the United States through government scholarships as well as those who go through self finance,” Tshewang Tandin said.

The centre has books, information and study materials for interested students.

The first secretary Matthew K Asada said that as the Bhutanese higher education system has developed and there are more options available at the undergraduate level in Bhutan as well as in India and in the United States itself, the American Centre in New Delhi will explore how the office will support graduate level scholarship from Bhutan to the US.

All services provided by an EducationUSA centre are free of cost to the public.

“Students can learn about the universities, the five step process for applying for schools in the United States,” Matthew K Asada said. “Students can also find out how to make connection with the centers in India for virtual advising.”

The reference centre will provide access to educational materials and connect visitors to virtual and in-person advising services available at the EducationUSA centres located in seven Indian states.

Bhutanese students can also speak with an advisor through a telephone hotline provided on the website, between 2 to 5pm every afternoon from Monday till Friday or participate in the free EducationUSA webinars every Friday at 4pm.

The first EducationUSA reference centre in Bhutan is intended to provide a resource for those students who are interested in going to US whether they are going on an official scholarship programmes or directly applying to universities and institutions in America, Matthew K Asada added.

There were 128 Bhutanese studying in the United States between 2014 and 2015, two-thirds of who were at the undergraduate level. One-quarter of Bhutanese students were enrolled at the graduate level that represented a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

Meanwhile, there were about 40 American students studying in Bhutan between 2013 and 2014.

Matthew K Asada said that the two governments sponsor a small percentage of Bhutanese students for the undergraduate programmes in the USA, while majority of the students are financed by the institutions or self financed through one’s family.

The reference centre is part of the US Department of State’s global network of more than 400 advising centres in 170 countries supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.

Matthew K Asada will be talking with concerned officials in the country on improving American scholarship programmes to address the need of Bhutan and students particularly at the graduate level, this week.

The USA has offered scholarships to Bhutanese since 1971.

Dechen Tshomo