The Ministry of Education announced a one-year moratorium for all new international scholarships as a result of a “reduction in resources and other factors”.
The suspension in new tuition grant awards will affect 2020/2021 scholarship applicants, including those attending the University of the West Indies (UWI).
“The public is also advised that other matters affecting the ministry’s decision included the free tuition initiatives at the University of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, the tuition commitment to current awardees, and the need to support Bahamians who seek admission to independent local tertiary institutions,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“The public is further informed that the delayed receipt of required documentation from overseas universities — emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic — has resulted in a severe backlog of incomplete applications thus hindering the timely consideration of them by the scholarships committee.
“One of the greatest impediments impacting the decision to institute a moratorium has been the delay in the sitting of the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations (BGCSE) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These BGCSE results constitute the basis by which scholarship awards are determined.”
It said the moratorium was ultimately and concluded to be the “best course of action”.
The ministry noted that contractual obligations to existing students will be honored.
“Additionally, as expressed by the minister of education, there is a need for reform of the scholarship system,” the ministry said.
“It is important that awards are made in accordance with national priorities, and that students return to The Bahamas to repay the Bahamian taxpayers who have borne the cost of their education.”
The ministry requested that current UWI scholarship recipients register online with the Scholarship and Education Loan Division by July 24.
It said registrations not received by that date will result in the “immediate termination” of scholarship payments.
“Lastly, all persons interested in applying for scholarships for the 2021/2022 term may also register online, effective 1st December 2020 to 31st March 2021,” the ministry said.
“Successful applicants will be required to sign a bond agreement mandating service in The Bahamas upon completion of the stipulated award, whether in the public or private sectors.”