15 July 2008

Scholarships: How much is out there?

A common complaint is that there are not enough scholarships available for Bermudian students, and that businesses and Government ought to provide more. In fact, one of the PLP's election promises was to increase the amount of available scholarships.

In fact, there are numerous scholarships in Bermuda, but only part of our society knows about them. The Bermuda Careers Centre maintains an extensive online list of scholarships at scholarships.bm, along with information about how to apply for them (website requires registration and login). By my count, in 2007 there were about 123 private scholarships from businesses and charities, offering just over 2 million dollars per year, or over $16,000 per scholarship on average. In reality, many of the scholarships are small, or for a limited time, while some are very large and for multiple years.

In 2007, there were 9 Government scholarships offering $490,000 per year. Brand-new legislation supported by both parties has added eight new scholarships, which will probably provide about an additional $200,000 per year. Government also provides a variety of bursaries, mature student, and teacher training awards (more info here and here).

My estimate is that the Government provides about a million dollars per year of scholarship funding, or about half that of the private sector. They have also recently proposed to provide funding to the University of the West Indies, which will allow Bermudians to study their at 20% of the cost. That's about $45,000 Trinidadian ($7,600 US) total cost to the student for an Engineering degree (including expenses), or just over $41,000 Trinidadian ($6,900 US) for Humanities or Social Sciences degrees.

Another option for Bermudians is to attend university in the UK, where they pay the same price as UK citizens, at no extra cost to the Bermudian taxpayer. For example, an Engineering student at Bristol would pay just over 3,000 pounds tuition (about $6,000 US). That would probably be less than living and travel expenses for a Bermudian student.

It would be more cost-effective for the Bermuda Government to offer subsidies to Bermudians who wish to study in the UK, either instead of or in addition to the UWI subsidy. Both of those options are more attractive than the average US private university which can run up to $25-$30,000 just for tuition!

Unfortunately, all the money in the world can't solve the primary problem: Bermudian students without quality secondary education will not qualify for scholarships, will not qualify for a decent university, and will not be able to take advantage of university education if they do manage to attend. And all the press releases in the world won't fix that problem.


Anonymous said...

Hate to state the obvious Douglas, but:

1. It is 'politically' not acceptable to point students in the direction of the UK.
2. Goes back to Alex Scot's remark that there are alternatives to being able to travel, live, work and learn in the EU when thinking about Independence.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at the scholarships of late, and one problem I've found is that its very hard to find scholarships for post-graduate study, or for fields outside of law and business.