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.