Fijians who studied under the Toppers and the Tertiary Educations Loans Scheme and are now residing overseas will have to continue making payments under the loan agreement.
This has been highlighted in the Tertiary Scholarships and Loans Service (Budget Amendment) 2023 that was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
The Amendment Bill intends to cancel off debt under loan agreements and is converted into bond agreements between the Government and students.
Any student or a former student who was under a loan scheme prior to August 1 and intends to travel abroad for medical, holiday or temporary work purposes is required to provide nominated guarantors for travel clearance.
The Amendment Bill states that a student or former, who have fulfilled their loan repayment or bond conditions must be issued a clearance letter from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service.
The Amendment Bill also mentions that no reimbursement will be provided by the Government if a student or former student prior to August 1 have served or paid off the full or partial amount of the loan agreement.
On Friday, during the 2023-2024 National Budget Address, Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad announced Government’s decision to write off the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme debt of a $650 million, owed by 53,725 students who had studies under the program.
He said this is a promise by the Coalition Government that all outstanding TELS debt is being forgiven and none of these 53,725 TELS recipients and their parents and guardians will have to pay a single cent back to the Government.
Prof Prasad also highlighted that Government will now provide a scholarship under the rebranded Fijian Scholarship Scheme to all eligible students.
A total of $148.2 million has been allocated in the budget to cater for the scholarships of 8,720 new students and funding needed for the 9,148 existing students.
He added that eligibility marks will be based on labour market needs and enrolment capacity of the universities.