Ministry claims scholarship management improved

| 28/01/2013

(CNS): Education ministry officials have said that a follow up review of the management of the scholarship programme by the government’s internal auditors found that the ministry had made significant progress. An audit conducted for the financial year July 2009 to June 2010 found weaknesses in the way the government scholarship programme was managed. But the review at the end of the 2010/2011 financial year had found then that the department was well on its way to addressing many of the weaknesses. Since then the education minister has claimed even more improvements to the system, which is based on merit.

Rolston Anglin, the education minister, said that when he took up office he found a number of problems with the management of the programme, in particular the vetting and monitoring of the students receiving government cash for school.

The scholarship programme is based on merit, the minister also stated recently, adding that government supports access to tertiary education for all those who qualify and meet the academic standards set and not on whether or not the student comes from a family with the economic means to pay for college.  

The maximum award is CI$20,000 per year for undergraduate studies overseas. Anglin said that over time scholarship recipients have come from all strata of society and have returned to make meaningful contributions in many different fields in our country. 

“The scholarship programme was set up and continues to operate as a critical investment in our young people and the future of our country, to achieve better educated citizens more equipped to deal with new challenges and technological advances and to ensure the Cayman Islands can compete on a level playing field with other countries,” the Minister said.

“I was especially concerned to find that there were significant weaknesses in the vetting of applications and the monitoring of performance,” Anglin said. “The fact that there was only one staff member managing the budget and process was also an issue. I shared these and other concerns with the country in public statements and then set to work to bring real change.”

By the time the Internal Auditors visited in July 2011, the team managing the scholarship programme had increased from one person to three. According to Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues, this was an essential first step. 

“We wanted to ensure we had the resources to better manage the millions of dollars being invested in our young people. We also wanted a unit that had the capacity to counsel and guide our students, and to monitor and hold recipients accountable for the investment being made in them,” she added.

Deirdre Seymour joined the Scholarship Secretariat as manager in January 2011.  She explained that with the support of Education Council, the ministry has continued to build on the progress made during the 2010/11 financial year.  The secretariat now offers an enhanced tracking system for the issuance of funds and expenditure per scholarship recipient. It has also introduced a new Online Scholarship Application programme to facilitate the receipt of applications for local and overseas scholarships together with supporting documentation.

Officials also said that the system relating to scholarship documentation relative to applications, bonding and academic performance requirements and maintenance of individual scholarships has been improved along with response times for the award of scholarships, disbursement of funds, queries and document submission for new and returning scholarship recipients.

The website and online applications along with email communication have all reduced the foot traffic into the Ministry of Education, which benefited the ministry.

There has also been a significantincrease in the number of warnings that have been issued and suspensions of funding for current local and overseas scholarship recipients not meeting academic requirements.

Officials said Improvements included enhanced student support and career guidance, including public and private school visits and presentations by the Scholarship Secretariat.

The ministry and the secretariat said they want to assure the public that they are committed to continually improving the Cayman Islands Government Scholarship Services. 

For more information on the Government Scholarship program please call 244-2482 or email scholarships@gov.ky.  Persons can also visit the scholarship page on the Ministry’s website at: www.education.gov.ky.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Seymour is doing a very thorough job and is always accessible. Pity we can't ask her to have a look at the so-called "nation building" scholarships. No limit of $20K, no auditing, no reports on performance. Pretty much all BIG UDP (real UDP, not UDP lite) supporters kids too. 

  2. Caymanian student says:

    I am a student on overseas scholarship and the GPA requirement is a 3.0 GPA each semester. How can anyone like 16:25 think that is low?? Some semesters I take up to 16 credits between 4 & 5 classes.
    People should familiarize themselves with the scholarship rules before commenting.
    Even whilst I was attending UCCI on scholarship my GPA after the 1st year was a 3.0 per semester taking a full semester load of 15 credits. I work hard and so do other students.
    My mother is a single mother and I met the requirements for scholarship. Not being rich didn’t stop me from achieving. I also had the benefit of both public and private school. I graduated from JGHS with good grades and 8 GCSE / CXC passes.
    I have my grades and expenses checked every time I require another set of funds each semester.
    I don’t get any breaks and that’s the way it should be. The scholarship program is good and I am happy to be a part of it and receive funding from the Government to obtain my Bachelor.
    Thank you CIG. Thank you Ms. Deirdre & team

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so glad they are cleaning up in this area. Those scholarships that were awarded to those rich people children, should be treated as student loans and it should be paid back to the Ministry. Children who are of a single parent or who has both parents with a combined salary of $90,000 or less and their children are performing, should be given the preference of obtaining an overseas Scholarship.  The rich children grades will always be better, as their parents sends them to private schools and can afford private tutoring for their children, hence the higher grades level, but the child of a single parent, or low income parents cannot afford these extra amanities, therefore they have to work harder just to get the means to perform. I think background checks and a high school bahaviour reports are needed when awarding these scholarships, as some very poor children has the potential to be tops scholars too, just lacking the means to survive here and overseas. It will also help to Facebook/twitter these scholarship recipients too, as they will show you exactly what they are doing overseas.  The trend is to just get overses to bar hop, party and drink alcohol, whilst on these scholarships, education is not their priority.

    • Anonymous says:

       "The rich children grades will always be better, as their parents sends them to private schools and can afford private tutoring for their children, hence the higher grades level, but the child of a single parent, or low income parents cannot afford these extra amanities, therefore they have to work harder just to get the means to perform". 

       
      What a crock of shit! Are you actually saying that poorer children in general (and those who go to govt. school) are less able to perform academically? Ask any teacher at one of the private schools which students in general are better coming into the A level programme andthey will tell you that it is the kids from the govt schools. It may be true that some kids who need help don't get it because of finances but give the kids who work hard and are intelligent some credit please! There are many, many of us who came through CIHS and are not from rich families who have done exceedingly well both academically and in our working lives. Member of the Cayman Islands High School Class of "78 and proud of it.
  4. Anonymous says:

    Wheras the nation building scholarships are based on political affiliation

    • Anonymous says:

      And the nation building fund scholarships are not limited to $20,000. They are not being audited at all. 

  5. Truth says:

    Great news!  The very ones who have been mismanaging it are telling everyone that NOW they are not.  Why would anyone belive them now?  How about if some of the people who have gotten money that they did not deserve payed it back or maybe even stopped getting it?  I know thats a big step but at least its something tangible.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Scholarships should be based on merit.  Geat job.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pay schools abroad to take our kids and keep kids from overseas from coming here to help pay for our colleges. 

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is absolutely no question that scholarships SHOULD be granted.

    The concern is that the recipients are not always deserving, and that the GPA requirement is so abysmally low that there is little incentive for the students to work hard to stay in college at the country's expense.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice Work, Deirdre!