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Students want assistance to return to Malaysia

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Two of three students who recently quit University and returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from Malaysia now want to go back.{{more}}

Less than one month ago, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines shelled out $20,000 to bring the three Vincentian students home. Two of them now want help to return to the southeast Asian nation.

Of the 10 students who took up scholarships at the Limkokwing University in Malaysia February last year, only five have remained, amidst concerns about the accreditation of nine of the ten courses being done by the Vincentian students.

The courses offered were new, and University officials sought to assure students that because of Malaysia’s accreditation process, it would have taken a while, sometimes up to three years for a new course to gain accreditation by the Malaysia accreditation authority.

Some students, however, expressed their disappointment and opted to return home.

Acting Chief Personnel Officer Tyrone Burke confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week that two of the students have indicated that since their return to St. Vincent, their courses have been accredited, and they now wish to resume their studies.

“They have requested financial assistance to defray the cost of their airfares,” Burke told SEARCHLIGHT.

Burke, however, stated that it is unlikely that the government would contribute to the students’ return, saying that to do so would be “setting a bad precedent.”

Another concern is that government officials have asked the students to confirm with Limkokwing officials that their scholarships have not been terminated.

“They acted prematurely,” Burke said, adding that the students were advised that despite their concerns, they could have at least stayed and attained an associate degree in their programmes.

Burke said that the government is confident that all the scholarships being offered to Vincentians are solid educational opportunities, and that students should have had more trust in the administration.

This view was echoed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who addressed the issue with SEARCHLIGHT before leaving for Turkey last Tuesday.

Dr Gonsalves said that he wished that the students involved, and those students who get government scholarships in the future, would “take from heart to heart that the government is working out the best arrangements for them.”

Meanwhile, the five students who remained in Malaysia have had an increase in their annual stipend from government.

The students have each received the first installment of the $8,000 stipend, which is up from $6,000.

The second payment is due at the end of March.

Burke told SEARCHLIGHT that the students have reported that they are comfortable and progressing well.

This year, 15 students should have gone off to Malaysia but because of the situation with the current crop of students, the government put a hold on the programme.

Burke, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that they are hoping to resume the scholarships next year.

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