Covid impacts scholarship students as they share challenges faced with remote online learning

Scholarship students who were repatriated from Fiji back in 2020 when the outbreak of COVID-19 had taken place, have now either completed, withdrawn, or deferred their studies. The two main scholarship providers are the governments of New Zealand and Australia and the onset of the pandemic has disrupted the scholarship programme for Niue students.

According to the Australia High Commission, there were fourteen awardees for the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships (AAPS) when the programme began in 2018. Since then, four recipients have withdrawn from their studies and two students have deferred until they can return back on campus to complete their programme.  BCN news understands that some of the students had withdrawn from the scholarship to continue studies under a student loan in New Zealand.

In 2020, the New Zealand Manaaki Scholarship programme had three awardees; two students were at the USP Laucala Campus in Fiji and one for the Law Campus Emalus in Vanuatu. However with the closure of borders and the travel restrictions, one of the students has withdrawn from their studies and one is continuing remotely via online and the other one graduated in October last year.   

After reaching out to some of the previous recipients, a 21-year-old female shared that her major challenge was the practical assessments. Due to the adjustments to remote online learning, she said that most of her assignments required practical participation on-campus. However, she could not meet these requirements and was partly the reason she had withdrawn from the scholarship. 

Another previous scholarship recipient also shared with BCN News that their repatriation back home and their various work experiences throughout the different government departments have changed their area of interest. Thus, resulting in their withdrawal from the scholarship, where they are now pursuing their new-founded tertiary pathway in New Zealand. 

A 23-year-old scholar who did complete her studies told BCN News that she found her scholarship good, adding that it made her “study life a little easier”. She said that she was very fortunate to have not withdrawn or deferred her studies due to COVID-19 as she had already completed her studies prior. 

The 23-year-old urges the school leavers who are taking a gap year to seriously consider their options as things are getting more difficult now with COVID-19. She also urges: “make sure you plan everything out”. 

Most of the thirty-one school leavers from Niue High school last year are still on the island taking a gap year and working in the government or private sector. A few of the school leavers left on the last flight to pursue further education at the different tertiary institutions in New Zealand, with most of them on privately-funded programmes and student loans.

On Monday this week, the New Zealand High Commission announced two new awardees for the New Zealand Manaaki Scholarship 2022 Sierra Sionetama from the village of Tuapa and Tamarina Sionetuato from the village of Avatele.

Applications are now open for the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarship 2023 and will close on the 29th of April 2022. 

Online applications for the New Zealand Manaaki Scholarships programme 2023 will open on the 28th of February this month and will close on the 28th of March next month at 12PM New Zealand Time (NZT). 

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