I write in response to the letter to the editor, “Scholarship woes upset our students”, which appeared on December 21, 2022. Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Te Reinga Akataunga’anga, the Cook Islands Government Tertiary and Study Support Programme, offers a range of scholarship and study grant options for Cook Islanders wishing to access formal tertiary education. The programme has allowed many Cook Islanders access to initial tertiary studies both domestically and abroad, whether supported with a full scholarship or a study grant for those who are privately funded, or undertaking studies while working full-time.
Administered through the Ministry of
Education, scholarships and study grants are awarded by the Tertiary Education
Committee (TEC), whose members are comprised of private sector representatives
and senior government officials, and chaired independently.
An annual budget of $780,000 is dedicated
to Te Reinga Akataunga’anga to manage the entire scholarship programme, including
new and existing scholarships (domestic and international), annual grants, and
repayment of tuition costs for full international scholars after they have
successfully completed their tertiary studies.
Understandably, priority is given to
domestic and international full scholarships, given their long-term financial
obligation, scope of support (flights and/or fortnightly allowances) and
significantly, due to Government’s commitment to repaying tuition costs when
scholars successfully complete their studies.
The international student success grant is
open to Cook Islanders who are pursuing tertiary studies privately overseas to
assist with covering tuition fees on a reimbursement basis. Reimbursement is paid
for papers passed during the calendar year with the support of the TEC, and if
funds allow. The budget allocation for the student success grant and other
grant arrangements varies from year to year, depending on the number of
applicants and scholars being supported. As is the case for 2022/2023, TEC will
be meeting mid-January to consider full scholarship applications for 2023 and
while there is an indicative number of scholarships available, awarding these
will be determined by grades (B+ average and NCEA results).
All success grant applications received for Semester two, 2022, are still pending,
no applications have been declined, and confirmation of support will be awarded
in January 2023 based on papers successfully completed and available funds.
This information has been shared with all applicants.
The Cook Islands Government Tertiary and Study Support Programme is highly
contestable and sustainability weighs heavily on high academic performance and
fields of study that meet both individual interests and national development
The TEC with the Ministry of Education
will be looking to improve access to and the credibility of the support
programme in 2023 and we are excited
for this opportunity. When considering ways to better manage the overall scholarship
programme, TEC will be leading these discussions with a view towards raising
opportunities to the highest level of Government.