Record high scholarship awards face review

| 25/08/2009

(CNS): According to GIS, 126 students have received government scholarships for overseas tertiary education this year and a further 99 have received funding to attend courses at UCCI with 62 more pending acceptance by the local college. Government estimates it will spend around $9.5 million in overseas and local scholarships this year and has said that how scholarships are awarded is to be reviewed. It did not say if cuts were planned to spending levels but the terms of reference indicate that the criteria for awards could change with the prioritisation and realignment of scholarship awards.

"We are fully committed to investing into our young people’s potential,” said Rolstin Anglin, the Minister for Education, adding that the number of approvals this year represents an increase of more than 50% over last year’s figures. “Well-educated Caymanians who can hold their own and compete on both global and local levels are the key resource that will ensure the future well being and advancement of our country."

GIS stated that on top of the 126 new overseas scholarship awards, government is paying for another 200 students to continue their education and what will be come 161 new scholarship recipients at UCCI will add to the existing 311 students already receiving government funding.

Around $2.5 million of government’s $9.5 million scholarship spending is on new overseas scholarships; around $4 million for students continuing their overseas studies; and $2.9 million for all local scholarship funding requests. 

In the wake of complaints that scholarship decisions had been delayed as well as cheques for existing students, the minister said the administrative and approval processes for government scholarships would be reviewed with the goal of improving the system for next year’s scholarship applications. He noted that there are urgent areas in the approval process that need improving.

“It’s evident that the criteria and processes for scholarship approvals need to be refined and more clearly communicated. There are a lot of unwritten policies surrounding the process, whichleads to confusion and inequities,” Anglin added.   

This is partly caused by the fact that the Scholarship Unit is understaffed; only one person manages the entire process. “This delays and limits the services that can be provided,” the minister pointed out.

He said the main goal was to get the scholarship programme integrated into an overall human capital development strategy and would add career counselling, and ongoing support for applicants and recipients, is under consideration as well. “

GIS said that the ministry was establishing a Scholarship Services Review Committee, which will be required to report to the Education Council by mid-December 2009 in order to ensure implementation and communications to applicants in advance of the 2010 round of scholarship awards.

The committee’s chair will be Joy Basdeo, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, and its terms of reference include recommendations for the revision of the criteria for awarding overseas and local scholarships as well as ways to prioritise scholarship funding and awards in order to align the grants with Cayman’s economic and societal needs.

 It will also look at a new Scholarship Secretariat Service, in order to address gaps in services for scholarship recipients and ensure that the scholarship programme contributes to human capital development. Effective business process and procedures will also be examined, in order to ensure that the application and approval processes are effective, efficient and timely.

The terms of reference also include examining how greater collaboration with relevant agencies and other scholarship-awarding bodies can be achieved as well as a mechanism to identify recommended or preferred institutions for various tertiary programmes, GIS stated.

Students who have not been contacted regarding their overseas scholarship applications or who made late applications are asked to call Head of the Investors in People Programme Philip Scott on 244-2416. Enquiries about local scholarship applications should be directed to the registrar at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). Applicants can also check for advisories on the UCCI website and the UCCI Student Information System.   

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  1. Educate them! says:

    Shame many of our youth are being held back in life by being forced to believe that the world is 6,000 years old and that evolution is a myth.

  2. food says:

    I really do think the scholarship program in the best thing the Cayman Government has ever done. We will see the seeds start to sprout very soon. Extensive higher education is exactly what Cayman has been lacking all these years.

    And to those that think that scholarships should be dropped for sometimes not making the grades. Just remember, a diploma is a diploma. There would be no point in dropping someone a year or two from finishing just for a slightly low GPA. That would mean the government pumped in the money for the first 2 or 3 years for nothing. The student may not have the money to complete the degree if the scholarship drops them. Because remember, half a diploma is nothing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Like many things in Cayman, the scholarship system needs to be changed.  It has remained largely the same for the last 40 years.  Whatever it’s inequalities might be, it has helped thousands of Caymanians obtain a tertiary education. Now the UDP is going to overhall it, and hopeful make the programme easier to use, and ensure that it is better administered.  I would like to see technology used to reach the primary stakeholders in this project, which are afterall the 16-23 demographic.  We know that this age-group communite mostly by email, texting, social networking etc. and therefore the programme must be accessible by using these tools.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear Give me a break Ms. Basdeo to properly prioritize these funding awards and hope some serious attention is paid to this review,


    If you are an English major you need to read your own post again. Clearly you failed a few courses in proofreading!

  5. Anonymous says:

    When I went to university over 20 years ago, and things have changed since, I got funding from the government (in Canada).  Part of the funding was loan and part bursary.  The size of my bursary was dictated by the income that my parents made and it took into account household factors such as the number of children in the home.  They should use that same system here as there are families taking advantage of this system who could afford to pay for their children’s education partially or wholly.  Some of which are not even born Caymanians.  I think they could consider restricting this program to just those born of Caymanian parents. Something to think about.

    • Anonymous says:

      And could you please clarify what is a "Caymanian parent" better still what is a "born caymanian".

      • Anonymous says:

        That would only include someone who is born of a Caymanian parent, excluding all permanent residents, status holders and others who do not have at least one parent who is a Caymanian.


  6. A grateful parent says:

    I give thanks.  I am very appreciative.  I am not going to join the list of people downcrying any Cayman Islands Government for the investment that they make in their young people.  My daughter has just finished her Associates Degree at UCCI and this was made possible through a Government scholarship.  Thank you very much Cayman Islands Government.  This year my daughter has also been awarded a partial overseas scholarship to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree.  Again thanks to the Cayman Government.  THANK YOU  CAYMAN ISLANDS GOVERNMENT.  She plans to return to Cayman and contribute to the success of the Cayman Islands.  You reap what you sew and each successive Government, be they PPM or UDP,  understands that!

    Thank-you…. thank-you …. thank-you

    • MonkeySee says:

      I am sticking with you ‘A grateful parent’! 

      I went to the Community College of the Cayman Islands for 2 years (graduated with honours) and then transferred to a highly ranked university and graduated with honours. 

      ALL THANKS TO THE CI GOVERNMENT for recognising my scholastic aptitude and my financial need.

      I would never have had the opportunity to go even locally if it weren’t for that scholarship. 

      And please note Young KY Female that I am well aware of the numbers of persons not financially needy today as compared to 2003 (which really would be 2000 as that was when I was awarded my scholarship) as I have family still in HS & who recently began college courses who went through the process. 

      I’m sticking to my point: There are bad decisions every day that we can complain about but let’s not fight over allowing our children to get a quality education here and abroad!

      And just to show how this investment works–as I was a scholarship recipient and college grad,  I am now employed in a better job than I would have been able to get sans degree; therefore, I am saving for my 2 young children’s education and hopefully they will not need any financial assistance.  What goes around comes around!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Give me a break Ms. Basdeo to properly prioritize these funding awards and hope some serious attention is paid to this review. 

    She only looks out for the ones whose parents can afford to pay.  She told me some twenty years ago that I was not a collage ready and I completed my studies with a Masters Degree in English.


    • Spella says:

      You just went there13:16??

      "I was not a collage ready"!

      Wow.  I’m not a fan of Ms. Basdeo either but you might want to see if you can get your money back on that Masters Degree!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you missed a bit out: "I completed my studies with a Masters Degree in English as a second language"

  8. MonkeySee says:


    I am a government scholarship recipient.  Of my entire graduating class who were on scholarship, we graduated with honours and/or on the Deans List and all came back and worked in government.  We were members of honours societies, sororities/fraternities, volunteered within the community we lived, and interned on most of our breaks. 

    Sure, some people got scholarships who did not meet a financially needed criteria but I’m not talking about them because they were the minority for my graduating class (2003).

    I have always been proud to say that I was on scholarship but the way its being portrayed is sad. 

    Please think about what you are complaining about–students getting an education!!!

    There will always be those amongst a group who do not meet their potential (for whatever reason) and those who slide by as an average student, but Caymanian students have long been welcomed on many campuses abroad and known for having a strong character and determination to do well at academics.

    Not to mention that we broaden our world experience by taking advantage of study abroad programmes, socializing with nationalities not represented in Cayman, and gain the respect of being a COLLEGE GRADUATE!

    Come on people….let the kids have a chance in our society. 

    • Young.KY.female says:

      Of course they should have a chance but you must be aware of the difference in the amount of candidates applying in 2003 and 2009.  Not only are there more students seeking further education (an extremely positive thing) also increasing the number of persons who aren’t qualified to receive aid (but still attain it because the government can’t say no), but the world population, let alone Cayman’s, has changed dramatically.  The attitude of children and young adults today is not the same even when comparing the present with just the 6 years ago.  The motivation to achieve honest success is diminishing and the change that really needs to be made is in the home with the proper encouragement and role models.  The government shouldn’t have to pay for the shortcomings of parents nor should they pay the way of those who have ambitious goals but don’t have the motivation or intelligence to make those goals a reality.  The government needs to put more money into the primary and secondary education departments and get these kids ready.  High school is a student’s chance to prove he/she is capable of continuing his/her education.  If this isn’t possible when they are home and presumably surrounded by the most encouraging people they will ever be, they probably cannot handle an institution overseas.  These students should have to prove themselves attending a local college before deserving these awards.  I am a recent college graduate and am embarrassed to admit that almost half of my friends who attended or are currently attending school overseas either did not deserve to receive their scholarship awards or should have lost them if the requirements to keep their awards were enforced.


  9. Anonymous says:

    While I agree it isn’t helpful to point out it isn’t working, I would also contend that knowing where you are at (IE: Student percentage not fulfilling the current requirements), is helpful.

    You can’t go where you want if you don’t know where you are at.  Just my opinion, others may disagree, but with our government hurting so bad, it seems that milllions could be saved immediately by enforcing the rules that already are in place while new ones may come online in the future.  Cayman deserves to know how many of the students (percentage wise) that are failing and/or succeeding don’t you think?

  10. Quincy Brown says:

    I am most pleased to see the government of the day investing heavily on education through scholarships.  It’s going to cost us (as a country) a substantial amount of money; however in the end a country with a high educational standard and where the majority of its people are highly educated can only be advantageous.  I am kindly asking the government and the private sector to continue to invest heavily on college/university education through grants for those academecally inclined and to also invest on programmes for those wanting to pursue a trade. Caymanian and non-caymanian.  Maintaining a high GPA is vital—however a scholar like myself wouldn’t do well in becoming a CPA or a medical surgeon as my GPA would be very low in these studies.  However subjects in the arts, humanities, politics, civics, history and philosphy would give yours truly a record high GPA!  I too am continuing studies and will be in need of financial assistance.

    Quincy Brown


  11. Anonymous says:

    The system works fine for any kid who wants to get free money from government and hopefully, use it to get an education. But here are the problems I have seen. 1.  No child is ever turned down from receiving this money from government (which is a good thing) in some ways but not always.  2.  The GPA spoken of before does not get adhered to. i.e. some students don’t maintain the GPA of 2.5 (I believe) required to receive more money and so should not get the money but a phone call to your local MLA will remedy that situation. 3.  The deadline is April for completing the applications ( I believe) and should be organized through the high schools so that the deadline can be adhered to but as we all know, deadlines are for other people and applications can and will be accepted long after the deadline passes. So, 2 things need to be done with the system.  1.  Make and keep deadlines and organize the application process with the high schools so that no one will miss the deadline. 2.  Make the kids clear on the consequences of not maintaining the minimum GPA.  What does it say to them if they don’t and then someone makes a phone call and they get their money anyway?  These young people are adults and their actions should have consequences.  They don’t know how fortunate they are to get a free education, or almost free, and should appreciate it.  Especially when you hear of the students in the U.S. coming out of university after 4 years with over $50,000 in debt and having to pay all of it back.  Very fortunate indeed.

  12. Young.KY.female says:

    I’m glad something is finally being done about this.  I know dozens of recipients who are not deserving or already have private funding and use these awards as a ticket off-island for an indefinite period of time.  The acceptance into programs overseas alone does not ensure success for the recipient and therefore for our islands. The criteria required to receive these awards must be modified and recipient progress needs to be monitored for continued aid.  Of course sending young people away is extremely beneficial to the individuals, the companies they will work for in the future and in turn our islands as a whole but only if they have the right tools and motivation to succeed; these funds are a privelage and should be treated as such.  I trust Ms. Basdeo to properly prioritise these funding awards and hope some serious attention is paid to this review.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Actually, all students (with the exception of those with a 4.0 GPA) should have to attend UCCI one full year (get their general requirements out of the way) AND prove they can survive in college BEFORE they are given all that money (housing, living expenses, tuition, etc) to go overseas. 

    CNS:  Please ask the question in relation to GPA’s, that will be a valid and good story for Caymanian people to know.

    CNS: Perhaps we should see what improvements the ministry will make to the process first. I’m not sure it’s helpful to point out that there are areas that might not be working when that is already the position the ministry has taken. When they come up with a new process then we can all comment on it AND make sure it adhered to.

    • Tweety says:

      First of all UCCI is not a real University experience. Second of all for the subjects studied by some of the students on overseas scholarship, myself included, the subject is not offered at the local University and sometimes even if it is it is just offered as a simple course and not as a major.

      Also government doesn’t require a 4.0 but a 2.5 in the first year and a 3.5 or 3.8 and higher for the remaining years.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I know getting an education is very important, but the Government say their broke.  So where is this money coming from??

  15. Anonymous says:

    CNS, grateful you could obtain details of Ministry of Tourism scholarships awarded this year. I was made to understand that they did not all relate to the tourism (or even business) industry. Additionally, who comprised the panel that approved the applications.

    CNS: I’ve sent an email to chief Officer Carson Ebanks with these questions.

  16. Anonymous says:

    And why if the government has no money are we giving new overseas scholarships this year. We should only be servicing those that are already in college and putting a "hold" on all new overseas scholarships.

  17. Anonymous says:

    A news organization should ask this very simple question:  Is the criteria for scholarships being renewed or approved (but specfically renewed) being adhered to?  What majority of the students are falling below the required GPA?  Now, I would think that might be an eye opener and helpful to the community to decide if this money should continue.  I would bet if you ask that very question, you would either not get an answer or get an answer that would shock you.