Ministry of Higher Education on Thursday, confirmed the decision to provide financial aid to Maldivians studying in foreign countries, who find themselves in-need amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
The aid to ease students' financial burdens in the economic regression that follows this crisis, would be accorded to all Maldivians studying abroad, both self-funded as well as those supported via private sponsors for a two-month period.
According to the policy publicized by the Higher Education Ministry, the all-local students that can demonstrate a need for financial aid are applicable, with the exception of those studying on state-funded scholarships or granted student loans from the state.
Other requirements include those enrolled in academic programs and studying at institutions approved by Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) as well as the respective studies having commenced prior to May 2020.
Self-sponsored or privately-sponsored students are required to show their need for financial support, with evidence of an interruption or complete cessation of usual monthly stipends and/or allowances.
The policy states that the sum of aid would be deduced based on the ministry's categorization of average living costs in the students' country or city of residence. If the student is based in a country where the daily cost of living is calculated by the ministry as being below USD 50, the student would receive the amount stipulated for the particular area. Whereas, if the student is living in a country categorized as incurring a daily cost of above USD 50, the student is limited to a total stipend amounting to USD 1500 - 1550, or a daily rate of USD 50, per month.
Students must submit their request via email to the ministry, defining the duration for which they require aid and with proof that the student is currently in the country at which they are pursuing education. Successful applicants will receive funds every 14 days.
Furthermore, if a student returns to Maldives during the period for which they have received financial aid, the student must pay the remaining sum to the state.
In April, the Ministry of Higher Education confirmed that students on scholarships, under student loans and undergraduates enrolled in any of the ministry’s various educational schemes, would continue to receive financial support as previously scheduled.
Pointing to ongoing work to establish an online portal for issuing payments for students, the ministry at the time reiterated its call that students hasten and submit applications for the online payment scheme as well as to register at their portal.
In addition to providing aid to students stranded or who are choosing to stay abroad and continue their academic pursuits, the Maldivian government has also confirmed its decision to provide financial relief to citizens that have faced salary deductions below certain levels.
On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. As many countries and cities closed in response, numerous students found themselves stranded abroad. This, coupled with a rapidly declining global economy and various limitations in available banking services, has placed international students dependant on allowances sent from home and private companies, at a serious disadvantage.er
At present, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.4 million people and claimed over 298,200 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.6 million people have recovered.