Fiji's Public Service Commission has spent a total of $16 million in handing out 1520 scholarships this year.
PSC Acting Permanent Secretary Iliesa Lutu told FijiLive out of this $16m, they gave $5.5m towards the multi-ethnic scholarship, $7m for local PSC scholarship holders, $1m for student scheme loan and $2.5m for overseas scholarships.
Lutu said these funds are not only for new awards, but also to cover costs for continuing students and the loan owing over the years now stands at $11,112,746.18 and they are intending to collect $2.8m this year.
“The most challenging aspect we face when collecting bonds is the non-ability to trace the students after they have graduated. When the students find employment, their first priority should be the loan repayment to the Government. However, we have found that most of them tend to forget about it and they do not inform the Public Service Commission of changes to their phone and mobile numbers as well as their home addresses,” Lutu said.
He said in this circumstance they send a first and a follow up reminder letter to the given addresses provided by the students copied to their guarantors and failure to respond within the 21 days of the letter being issues leads to PSC contacting and liaising with the guarantors employers if they are in the private sector or statutory bodies and sending direct deduction letters to the two guarantors’ employers for direct deduction from their salaries.
He also said other measures they take in terms of finding the former students are through the Immigration watch list and the Data Bureau.
By Mereani Gonedua