Yangyel Lhaden

With big dreams to study in Australia, Ugyen Wangchuk did not apply for scholarships even after  he scored 72 percent in the board examination last year.  He is waiting for the situation to improve and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to resume in the country.

Ugyen Wangchuk  did not expect the pandemic to prolong and regrets his decision. He is not alone.

Many students who finished Class XII in 2019 are unable to continue their further studies this year. Many of them are students who did not qualify for colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) and had planned to study in India and other third countries.

IELTS, the English language proficiency test, has not resumed in the country. Students are consulting consultancy firms if it would be possible to study abroad or register with universities without IELTS.

The consultancy firms are making early arrangements for students by consulting with universities for a conditional offer letter. Conditional offer letter is similar to early booking where an individual can apply for colleges without IELTS results.

An official from Global Reach Education Consultant firm (GRECF), said that with the Covid-19 situation, it was unlikely for students to go to Australia till the end of 2021.

Some consultancy firms are making arrangements for online classes for students who registered with colleges in India.    

It has been a month since online classes started for six students registered with GRECF.

An official from Nukareer education consultancy firm said that most students were not interested to register in colleges in India because of online-classes and the firm did not register any students with colleges in India given the risk factors of the pandemic.

EduBhutan consultancy firm’s manager, Namgay, said that 15 students registered for a college in Chandigarh did not want to avail online classes and deferred their admission to next year.

“A first year student who was back in the country didn’t want to avail online classes and discontinued to start as a fresher when she returns to college,” Namgay said.

Some students cannot take the risk to wait with uncertainty of the restrictions to study abroad.

Rigyel Phuntsho is studying in Royal Thimphu College as a backup plan. “Earlier this year I applied for a college in Australia, but I did not get confirmation,” he said.

Students who did not get admission in private colleges in the country have no other option but to wait.

Tenzin Wangyal wanted to study abroad. Even before the class 12 results were announced, he sat for the IELTS test. He said that he feared losing a year if he waited to study abroad and tried for a private college, but in vain.

RUB’s Vice Chancellor, Nidup Dorji said that students must meet the minimum requirement criteria for admission in private colleges under RUB and that admission would also depend on availability of seats.

The Vice Chancellor said that the seat in RUB colleges were slightly increased this year compared to last year which was in plan before Covid-19, but it would not have solved the current issue. “If we increase the seats in colleges because of the pandemic, infrastructure of the colleges would be overwhelmed. Moreover, admission in RUB is based on merit.”

Some ex-country scholarship recipient students under the Department of Adult and Higher Studies (DAHE) planned their travel through the bubble air service to India.

Two students were able to go to the university in India. Five more will leave tomorrow. One student had gone to New Delhi to do IELTS on August 22.

An official from DAHE said that except for a few students placed in public universities the rest of the students were availing online classes.

There are 163 out of 170 ex-country scholarship students who are availing online classes.