The Maldivian government has announced a new policy regarding the free degree scheme, whereby students who drop out of their courses will be required to repay the government for the funds that were spent on their education. The policy stipulates that if a first-degree student stops their course without a reasonable excuse, they will be obligated to reimburse the government for the expenses incurred. The policy further states that students who attain a lower degree and drop out of the course before completion will also be required to pay back the funds.
The government has also outlined measures to be taken in cases where participants fail their courses or do not repay the government. These measures include barring students from participating in higher education and training opportunities until the government has been paid, as well as taking judicial action to recover the funds. Additionally, the policy reduces the repayment period for students who discontinue their course, with the period decreasing as the amount owed increases.
The new policy replaces the previous one and sets a time limit for students who started pursuing their degrees to join the scheme, with applicants required to apply before a maximum of 18 months have passed since the start of their course. The policy also stipulates that the duration of a course delay has been reduced to a maximum of 12 months, and that students can change their course and study centre only once, with the approval of the Ministry.
The policy aims to encourage students to complete their courses by setting a time frame for completion, with students required to complete their course within 18 months of the specified date in their placement letter. If the date of completion in the placement letter has already expired, the course should be completed within 12 months from the date of publication of the new policy in the Gazette.
The government’s free degree scheme, which was launched in 2019, has allowed 15,000 students to pursue their studies at the government’s expense.