Yangchen C Rinzin

Without much hope of getting college admission in Bhutan, many students and parents are hopeful that getting a second dose and vaccine certificate could address their concern and help to send their children abroad for studies.

Many parents Kuensel talked to feel that it is safe to send their children abroad to study outside since many could not send them fearing the Covid-19 situation.  The majority of the Bhutanese send their children to India for further studies.

“I hope it is safe to send our children abroad since there is no hope for college admission in Bhutan,” a civil servant said. “My son has waited long hoping he would get admission and I am worried that he might lose another year.”

If some students decided not to go for further studies because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, some waited for the second dose vaccination, others decided to repeat Class XII.  

Many are waiting with the hope that the government might come up with a solution.

Of the total 12,595 students, only 3,567 students have secured admission in different colleges in the country including two private colleges as of 24th June, according to the education ministry’s record.

While about 9,000 Class XII students are still waiting to continue their education, the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) managed to increase 381 seats in various government and two private colleges.

Seat increase was based on the in-take capacity of colleges. All the seats are on “self-finance” except for 35 seats in teaching in Paro College of Education.

The fate of about 8,000 students now remains hanging. 

With many countries requiring people to be vaccinated to avail visa, a mother of two is hoping that she can send her child to study in Canada. 

“Although it’s worrying to send them, my daughter has remained idle. She is worried that she is going to lose a year when her friends have already joined colleges.”

The Royal Institute of Tourism and Hospitality managed to increase about 12 seats for a diploma course. The official said that although there were applications some had not paid the fees hoping to find a college. “Their first priority is to pursue a degree. So not many are willing to take up the course immediately.”

Although some students got admission to various colleges in India, many could not travel because of several lockdowns in many states in India. Those who managed to leave are studying online.

An official from the RUB said that given limited infrastructure and resources, it would not be possible to accommodate further unless the government decides to come up with immediate additional infrastructures. “Even if we do, we’ll have shortages of faculty.”

However, many educationists and observers said that pandemics affected everything, including education. Many said that while it would be difficult to absorb all 8,000 students or push the colleges to absorb more, the government could work on alternatives to engage the students productively.

A senior educationist said that everything becomes an emergency during such a pandemic and cannot blame anyone than to hope the situation would improve and these students would get admission. “Most colleges are also closed due to the pandemic. There is nothing we can do about it.”

The government also facilitates those students who leave for studies. Some were given a second dose, including Pfizer before the vaccination campaign to leave for colleges.

Even those who got scholarships through the department of adult and higher education (DAHE) from last year, nine students who got scholarships for MBBS were able to leave this year only and are currently in quarantine.

There are still another 15 MBBS students who got scholarships in Bangladesh waiting since last year. An official from DAHE said that the admission process was going on and hopefully would be admitted by this August.

The department is still working on the admission and visa process for 20 MBBS students. “If the situation doesn’t improve, they might have to wait till January next year. While some are waiting to complete their IELTS to go to a third country, we’re now sending them to Kolkata to do the exam.”

The official added that although many students are waiting to join college, we cannot take in additional because scholarships are designed based on the requirement submitted by the labour ministry and RCSC. “Accordingly, we get the budget.”

Meanwhile, there are still about 63 seats vacant at the College of Science and Technology and 40 at Jigme Namgyel Engineering College.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk