Wednesday, 12 August 2009 9:26 AM

Scholarship Termination- is there a Policy?

Bula Editor and again I would appreciate publishing my views on the above subject. Reading the various contributions aired by writers on the subject of scholarship termination (particularly in regards to USP Laucala students), its seemed that NTC is very harsh in conditioning the termination to failure of at least 2 course units in a semester. Whether this is a formal policy or just a measure that was merely put in place to create convenience for NTC, the important issue to ponder is how beneficial is this step to both students and NTC.

It will be a grave loss to terminate a 2nd or 3rd year student that happened to fail at least 2 course units last semester - both to the students and to NTC (or Solomon as a whole). On the other hand, it will be very immaterial and groundless to terminate a first semester student that failed at least 2 course units. Why I raised the above is because a lot of diagnosis were expressed about students' failure rates without actually determining the course.

I would express agreement with George Kalo's call to research and diagnose the capabilities of students from the source (entry into Uni - be it USP or other institutions or be it SIG sponsored or other donor sponsored scholarships). All of us who were once tertiary students under scholarship would appreciate that we obtain the opportunities on merits. Not only that but we will also appreciate that each individual student's academic capability is different. Having said that the one commonality is that we aspire to pass our courses and to eventually complete our respective programs.

Given this observation, each student's progress and performance should be treated on a case-by-case basis (as opposed to imposing a harsh condition across the board). NTC should by now have devised the best possible mechanism(s) to be dealing with students' academic appraisal. If they have created the avenue for appeal, this means they will be appraising these appeals on a case-by-case basis. Why not do it for all students that have not performed well year in, year out.

Creating the avenue for academic counseling should be the way forward - not termination. Students don't aspire to fail (unless in some extraordinary cases) and should they fail, the next best alternative is to afford assistance to address there individual situations. One would suspect that this might be a role of the Education Attache in Suva, which would also create added-value to this position to both students and NTC.

There were cases in recent years and even now where some undergraduate or postgraduate students have well exceeded their respective course duration and SIG scholarship allowable time but managed to continue - with NTC endorsements off course. Are these special cases? How special are these cases to NTC? Worse still, there is knowledge of students who could not complete their studies under donor sponsored scholarships (as NZAID or AUSAID) and later returned under SIG sponsorships to complete. If there is provision for such cases in the NTC policies then SIG sponsored students deserve better recognition. My point point is these are examples of case-by-case evaluation of students' performance so why can't it be extended to all SIG students?

Given the practice of random case-by-case appraisal of student (which in most cases eventuate in favorable outcomes) by NTC, it denotes (although unfounded) highly suspicious ill practices within the decision-making circles of awards.

Case-by-case appraisal should be extended across the spectrum and should be the policy. This gives the right of appeal and being heard to all students - not just 28 cases out of 70+.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Andrew and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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