Our local news stories regularly cover population concerns, housing issues and waiting lists for non-urgent hospital patients. A recurring theme in many of these stories has been the retention of local candidates for high skilled jobs.
It’s been a key facet of government policy for decades and offering young people the opportunities to achieve their potential is central to achieving more highly qualified locals.
Postgraduate training has always been at the heart of developing exceptional talents within any successful knowledge based economy and the Jersey Bursary scheme exists to promote this through the funding of courses. The eligibility criteria to apply for the scheme is, in itself, challenging.
Aside from the residential qualifications, a candidate has to have been accepted, either firmly or provisionally, with an offer from a university or college to undertake a course of postgraduate study and to have achieved a minimum of an upper second class honours degree. The candidate completes an application form, a presentation and is then interviewed by a panel consisting of the Minister for Education, a senior academic adviser, an independent panel member and a senior employee of the Government of Jersey.
The maximum bursary awarded towards a postgraduate course is up to £10,000, but the Jersey Bursary is a non-means tested competitive award, so it’s a fair assumption that it’s not always the neediest who benefit.
It’s not uncommon for students to pay course fees in excess of this maximum threshold, with fees for an MA in Journalism, for example, of £11,500 and an MSc Dental Technology course costing £13,000.
The waiting times for a child from referral to getting orthodontic treatment at the hospital dental department in Jersey varies according to clinical need, but for non-clinical urgent patients, the average waiting time can be up to six years and 10 months. The need for well-trained staff certainly seems urgent.
In a recent Freedom of Information request, of those students making applications for post graduate bursaries through the Government of Jersey Bursary scheme, only 31% of the applicants were successful. This is down from 42% the year before.
The fact that only 14 post graduate bursaries were awarded by the Government of Jersey’s Bursary scheme for study during 2021/22, for an island population well in excess of 100,000, sends out a stark but clear message to our undergraduate population about how our government really views investment in young people.
I hope our undergraduate voters will reflect upon this at next year’s island elections.
Parcq du Pont Marquet, St. Brelade
Calls for long-delayed update to higher education funding