Where’s equity?

Bright stuff?

First, the good news: the government has granted autonomy to the Royal University of Bhutan. This means that the university can now concentrate on improving standards without the usual encumbrances of the bureaucracy.

4icu.org, a tertiary education search engine, places our university at a lowly 7,418 of the 10,000 universities they rank. Hopefully, their ranking is not accurate. Hopefully, the RUB will correct it to more accurately reflect their real ranking. And hopefully, RUB will improve on their real ranking.

Naturally, a lot more is now possible – and expected – from our university.  There’s a lot of work to do. But I’m optimistic.

Now the bad news: the first thing that an autonomous RUB has done is to start charging fees.

Actually, charging fees is not bad. Tertiary education is expensive. And, in order to improve standards and to ensure sustainability, we must start paying for college.

But the way the university is going about charging fees is questionable. 90% of their students don’t pay any money, while 10% of them are charged hefty fees. Those 10% of the students have to shell out a colossal Nu 69,000 to 83,000 depending on their course. And on top of that, they, unlike the other students, are required to pay boarding fees.

Our last poll asked if RUB should charge fees. 46% answered “Yes”. And 54% said “No”. Perhaps they too would have supported fees if those fees had been applied more sensibly.

So how should RUB charge fees? With equity!

A minority of the students – say 10% of them – should be given full scholarships for, for example, excelling in academics, sports and culture, and to promote diversity and gender balance. The rest should have to pay fees.

So, instead of 10% of the students paying Nu 70,000 per year, there would be 90% of the students paying a much more manageable Nu 7,777 per year.

And in three years, instead of 30% of the students paying Nu 70,000 per year, as envisaged by the university, there would be 90% of the students paying Nu 30,000 per year.

The RUB should charge fees if they must, especially if college standards are set to improve. But they should do so sensibly. And with equity.

Photo credit: Royal University of Bhutan


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  1. As far as ranking is concerned, we can take it with a grain of salt. It is never correct and it never will be.
    As for paying fees, I have been saying this all the time, that instead of charging hefty amounts to a select few, charge low amounts to everyone except, scholarship students. Also another incentive they should offer is waiving for fee during second year, if a students performs really well during first year. They can also introduce need based scholarships for poorer sections of the society.

  2. Motor Mouth says

    before OL expounds on the RUB charging fees, it must be kept in mind that the RUB is now autonomous which means it has to ensure its own survival. for that, the RUB needs to make money.

    compared to what RTC charges, the fee has been kept nominal in my opinion. i would rather have my ward studying in Bhutan than abroad. the fees are collectively less plus i can rest assured that i can keep tabs on my ward anytime.

    peace of mind plus light on the pocket (compared to universities and colleges abroad and RTC)

  3. Bhutanjin says

    I see that with the RUB gaining autonomous status it is also gaining the irked responses from our elite thinkers.It cannot be hastily judged of the consequences of charging the fees as RUB has proposed.It does seem favorable to charge the 10% rather than charge all.These 10% will be on management quota ,meaning those who can afford and have not met the required level of academic performance vis-a-vis the qualified 90% students.Its fair to let students study in Bhutan and pay here then to pay elsewhere outside bhutan to some bogus university under unsafe environments.

    Government has been trying hard to provide education to all and at all levels of educational qualifications.This measure is to accommodate these students who could not make it to the Bhutanese colleges by paying some nominal fees in comparison to paying “colossal amounts ” to Indian or Thai colleges outside bhutan.

    The present suggestions by our readers here does nothing but surely paves the way for commercialism of our educational system.The motives of our educationists is to educate and impart knowledge and not make money out of the deserving students.What guarantee is there to secure a free and fair access to deserving students in Bhutan if all our educational institutions need to be paid fee.It is like giving a free reign to the people with money to run our educations system.Our society is still agrarian society and poor farmers children may never get to study if such fees are levied upon all students.

    The commenter’s here have not weighed upon the benefits of free education to a poor Bhutan and starting to prop up commercialized version of education system at this stage of development may be counter productive to the little gains sought for sustaining the RUB itself.

  4. i agree…. while, many of us think that parents might be able to afford the fees because some children go out of the country to study, many of our parents- who bear the cost of their children’s education- might not be able to afford it.
    this might even force them to stay out of school there by increasing the number of young people who will look for jobs.
    A broad base with smaller amount seem like a practical idea to begin with.
    But it seems like our government refuses to see reason and like to do what they have decided. So I am not sure, that they will actually consider our concerns and feedback.

  5. Dear OL
    What about the employee of RUB. There has been no orientation anout the transformation. Do you feel that it is right on the part of RCSC and RUB to make the employee resign compulsory with out even taking their views? Does it not violates the RCSC rule and human rights?

  6. Dear Ol. I found for the first time that you have made the mistake or misunderstood the real meaning.
    The real meaning is that the RUB is going to charge 100% for the training in their college.
    But they are going to accept the 90% government scholarship and 10% self funding. So, this 10% was, those who are not qualified for the government scholarship. Before RUB coming autonomy, 100% scholarship in given by RGOB in the form of salary, equipment and so on. Now rthe government is reducing the scholarship from 100% to 90%. Next year 90% to 80%. After that 80% to 70%. Who knows it may come down also. It is nothing to do with RUB. If government dose not give scholarship then RUB will enrol the self funding students. You take the example of RTC. Goverment is giving ten students scholarship every year. Rest is self funding. we have many students in others universities also who gets government scholarship and self funding too. this is not new in bhutan.

  7. Yangchung says

    I support you Mr. OL!!

    I like the idea of providing full scholarship to a certain percentage of students who excelled in academic, sports, and other areas like you just mentioned. Actually, they should provide up to 20% if possible, not just 10%!

    Also I don’t think RUB’s present move of charging only 10% of the students is here to stay forever, I suppose they are taking it one step at a time, and I believe eventually they will do exactly like what your honorable has advised! So bashing at the RUB this year itself is unnecessary!

    I do also like the idea of offering some partial scholarships (or waivers of some kind) to those students who make up to the dean’s list or secure certain percentage (to be determined by the college management), that way it will not only provide incentive for students to strive for the best but also reduce their final burden as they step into next level!


  8. I also fully support you OL on this issue. Whatever you have stated here is genuine. But, will you take this issue further from discussion in this blog.

    Is there a way to take up this with the government or the RUB directly at your level. Anything done on this matter will immensely benefit the commoners and the low income group of our fellow citizens.

    More votes are guaranted in 2013 for you and for PDP if you can make this matter sensible.

  9. Dechen Tshering says

    Honorable OL and other commentors,
    RGoB is funding those 90% students as salary, infrastructure, etc. with RUB was of Government’s and still pay check for persons in RUB comes from Finance Ministry.
    The 10% students asked to pay fees are the ones’ who could not make upto Gov’s scholarship and going by examples of any countries they should be looking for employments as all of us cannot become dashos or professionals even with degree certificates. Only deserving ones should go up.
    Another good thing is only students with next good academic achievements to the ones getting gov. quota are given chance by RUB to pay fees and study. This reduces chances of children who can pay only studying in those few seats available in RUB.
    Let bus keep discussing things andhelp take our Nation forward.

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