President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih revealed on Sunday that government spending for the state-funded undergraduate study program has reached more than MVR 130 million.
Speaking at the ceremony to award presidential scholarships to top performing students, President Solih revealed that the program has benefited a total of 6,250 students.
According to the president, 54 students are currently pursuing graduate studies in seven countries under the presidential scholarship while 1,480 students are studying in 24 countries under a loan granted by the government.
In addition, it was noted that 117 students study abroad under graduate scholarships.
Offering state-funded undergraduate degrees was one of President Solih’s main election commitments.
At present, the program is only fully applicable to courses offered by the National University of Maldives (MNU) and Islamic University of Maldives (IUM). A substantial portion of the course fees charged by private colleges operating in the Maldives is also covered by the government.
By 2023, the government aims to provide at least 25,000 students the opportunity to study through a free undergraduate degree program, award graduate scholarships to a minimum of 1,000 students and allow at least 2,500 students to take out loans to pursue higher education.
The parliamentary committee on national development and heritage advocated that the government policy on undergraduate degrees be enacted into law.
The chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee formed to consider the recently proposed education bill, the lawmaker representing Baarah, Haa Alif Atoll MP Ahmed Abdulla, expressed concern that many students are deprived of financial aid as a result of future policy changes in the education sector.