Free First-Degree: MVR 24 million spent, policy changes brought

Graduation ceremony of Maldives National University. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Afrah)

The Ministry of Higher Education has revealed that MVR 24 million was spent on the free first-degree program.

The first-degree program was an election pledge by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and around MVR 50 million was allocated for the program in this year’s budget. The program was commenced earlier this year and students were refunded for previously paid course fees.

The first-free degree program is only available for first-time degree students and the Ministry of Higher Education Deputy Minister Aishath Shafeena informed the Parliamentary Committee on National Development and Heritage yesterday that 5679 students were currently studying under the program. She also stated that 1691 refund forms have been received by the Ministry as well as 3,089 forms for funds by universities and colleges.

Two government-run universities Maldives Islamic University and Maldives National University currently offer the opportunity to study under the first-degree program. The program also covers most of the fees of private colleges run in the country.

Changes to be brought to first-degree policy

The Ministry also announced that it will be bringing some changes to the policy in which funds are allocated for the first-degree applicants.

Previously, funds were allocated for students after a detailed invoice of the course fee information attained from the university or institution was provided by the student.

“We do not have to tell the student to send the invoice to the institution and we do not have to wait to rece3ive the invoice. We will provide the funding for the student after the documents were submitted by the student during the application process. This will make the whole process a lot easier and the funds will be arranged for the student quickly.” said the Minister for Higher Education Dr. Ibrahim Haassan at the Parliamentary Committee on National Development and Heritage yesterday.

The Minister also stated that funds will be allocated semester-wise and that this was done to ease the burden on students which was a pledge by the President.