Government scholarships should be based on need

| 29/05/2016

Auntie has received the following related questions:

1. How are scholarship applicants vetted in regards to their means of being able to provide for their university fees without a government scholarship? Why are there students who have parents that earn a decent salary being awarded scholarships?  

2. Why does the Education Department continue to award students who have parents that earn over $90,000, scholarships? Then what is the purpose of the scholarship application requiring a bank reference from their parents? If such students are rejected from receiving a scholarship, I’m sure their mums or dads can use their savings to provide them with an overseas education (UK especially). These students are not in ‘need’ of a scholarship. 

Auntie’s answer: I suspect there many more people who probably have similar questions, and I can understand how there would be a perception that the government considers financial need along with other criteria when determining who will be awarded a scholarship, especially for an overseas university.

However, if you look through the description of the scholarship application process on the Ministry of Education website and at the scholarship application itself, there is no mention of the applicant having to demonstrate financial need. The scholarship is completely merit-based, as was clearly explained to me by a representative of the Scholarship Secretariat, who I suspect has to deal with these sorts of questions all the time.

As one of the questions listed above indicates, part of the requirements for applying includes providing salary information on the student’s parents as well as bank reference letters for them and a surety (I suppose if that person is not a parent).

This is where the confusion lies. The person at the secretariat explained the purpose of providing that financial information is not to determine financial need but to ensure that the surety who is guaranteeing the young person has the means to pay the government back if the student doesn’t fulfil certain obligations attached to the granting of the scholarship.

Here is the official explanation: “The surety forms part of the bonding requirements for an approved scholar. Students are bonded to return to the Islands to work for a period of time equivalent to their time on scholarship.

“The surety is liable for the repayment of the disbursed scholarship funds back to the Government should the student not complete the prescribed course of study or does not return to the Islands to fulfill their bond requirements.”

So, in simplest terms, if the student does not keep his or her end of the bargain, all the scholarship money has to be returned. By requiring a surety, the government is making sure it gets its money back if anyone reneges on the agreement that is attached to the scholarship.

It is easy to see how the inclusion of financial information could lead to the conclusion that need forms part of the criteria to be granted a scholarship, but all the government is looking at is the student’s academic qualifications. I am sure not everyone will think that is a fair process but it does level the playing field, at least academically speaking.

If you want more information on applying for a government scholarship, you can email the Scholarship Secretariat or call 244-2482.


Category: Ask Auntie, Education Questions

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I understand that in the past scholarships were granted to non Caymanians, thus, the push for Caymanians born post 1977 to receive acknowledgement of status. This, not a passport or birth certificate, will then be proof of being Caymanian. Makes sense. Or, don’t grant non Caymanuans passports? Pretty simple.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hell, they are even giving scholarships to non-Caymanians, so don’t expect too much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sure? The application asks for proof of being Caymanian….

      • Anonymous says:

        See problem is Mac gave away citizenship to thousands so now all those who agreed finally starting to feel the bite. Why not suggest that applicants who are are able to satisfy eligibility qualifications to run for office and they have the grades then they get scholarship the other ‘new Caymanians’ would have access to loans, after all their parents/grand parents did not build the country

        • Anonymous says:

          I would not agree that Cayman was only built by “their Parents/Grandparents a lot of Ex-Pats have contributed greatly to make Cayman the place it is today , but I agree only Blood Caymanians and those in financial need should be granted scholarships not those whose parents can more than afford to cover they costs . I know personally of Caymanians who should n ever have been given scholarships but did which means someone really deserving of this help did not receive it .

  3. Jotnar says:

    So that young chap who got a substantial scholarship to pay for his helicopter training but having returned has not worked as a helicopter pilot has to return the money?

  4. Anonymous says:

    That is why every caymanian child, if they are accepted to college, should be able to get a government loan.

    No matter what.

    How can you have expectations of the people of tomorrow, if you can’t expect to invent in them for tomorrow.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with granting the loans. It forces the ‘kids’ to work when they return or if they truly do not wish to return, they can pay the funds through their jobs overseas and ultimate liability with the parents/guarantors on island that cosigned (and the property they put a charge against – something to consider). Working overseas provides them with the international experience that many firms on island say that Caymanians do not have. However the conditions of many of the scholarships are restricted to immediately returning to the island which disadvantages Caymanians.

      Think this through a little further. Allow for government loans only for Caymanians and disband allowing scholarships for foreigners whether government or private sector scholarships.

      Now regarding pure scholarships, this should be based on financial need unless the child is absolutely brilliant. So I do feel there should be consideration for merit based scholarships. A brilliant child should not be disadvantaged because of the perceived advantage of wealthy parents. Wealth is relative. The parents may have a fancy house and car but highly leveraged and living paycheque to paycheque.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to find out if anyone has ever had to repay the scholarship funds when the student has not returned to Cayman to work, after graduation? I can think of several “kids” that I know who are still off island years after graduating….