NEWS

Justice For Toppers

Unfairly suspended recipients of the National Toppers Scheme now have a second chance to prove themselves. This comes following the review of the decision by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans
30 Jan 2021 11:17
Justice For Toppers
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum with TELS board members and students. From left: Hasmukh Lal, Nicolette Khan, Zakariyya Shameem, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, TSLB chairman Rakesh Ram, Ruqaiya Whippy, Roneel Kumar and Abdul Mufeez Shaheed in Suva on January 29, 2021. Photo: Leon Lord

Unfairly suspended recipients of the National Toppers Scheme now have a second chance to prove themselves.

This comes following the review of the decision by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board (TSLB) to suspend some students by raising the Grade Point Average (GPA) requirements.

Meetings were held last week between the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, TSLB, student representatives and the Solicitor-General. An agreement had been reached to review and reverse the decision.

University student representative Abdul Shaheed acknowledged the A-G and TSLB for listening to their plight and giving them the space to discuss solutions.

He said with the start of the new academic year in March, affected students were concerned about what was going to happen.

“There was a lack of understanding of what they were going to do in semester one. I hope this (review) has put everyone’s minds at ease and a message to the students that you now have the chance to prove why you are an NTS student of Fiji,” Mr Shaheed said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum apologised to affected students for the abrupt and arbitrary decision made by TSLB to suspend them.

He said at best TSLB’s decision was hasty and bordered on academic sabotage adding that its management treated university students like they were in a day-care without genuine consultation or consistent communication.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Toppers students deserved a far higher level of professionalism.

“The review has revealed the root of the problem was a lack of transparency for students and poor and inconsistent implementation of Government’s objectives,” he said.

“So, we not only have to correct the wrong that’s been done, TSLB must commit to new protections for students to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Plan

Toppers students who were enrolled and suspended last year without being personally notified will be reinstated on probation so that they can work their way back up to the GPA threshold.

“These students may have fallen below the necessary GPA requirements, but that policy was so poorly, and inconsistency enforced that they were essentially ambushed by the news of their suspensions,” he said.

“We do have standards for students receiving scholarship, and students must meet those requirements. If they don’t, they will be suspended, but that must happen in accordance with due process.”

In respect of the GPA threshold, TSLB would soon be reviewing and tailoring GPA requirements based on the universities’ different grading scales.

Students would also be individually notified if they are placed on probation or suspended instead of a blanket notice for everyone.

Toppers who were fairly suspended for falling under the GPA threshold would immediately become eligible for TELS funding and a 3.0 GPA would now be the standard for maintaining a scholarship and reclaiming it.

“Students deserve transparency; they deserve consistency; and even if they are struggling with their studies, they deserve a fair shot at improving,” he said.

 



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