Dr Wheatley made the announcement during his update on the programme during the Fourteenth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
“Mister Speaker, every well-functioning programme must have an appropriate structure to guide it. The Scholarship Programme is no exception and is guided by the Virgin Islands Scholarship Programme Policy which was last updated in 2014.
This policy provides the framework that guides the awarding and administration of all scholarships. In the daily operations of the Scholarship Unit within my Ministry, it has been noted that there are various areas which the policy does not address as well as areas of ambiguity,” he remarked.
He said it has also been noted that the policy needs tweaking to provide “further direction to the scholarship programme to ensure its sustainability and to better support the training and workforce needs of the Territory.”
The Education Minister continued: “Therefore, in addition to recommending applicants for scholarships, the Scholarship Committee recently completed a thorough review of the Scholarship Policy which we expect to submit to Cabinet before the end of this year so that the new policy can guide the next review of applications.”
The Virgin Islands Scholarship Programme under Chairman Julio S. Henry, in August 2020, awarded 32 scholarships in various areas of study including medicine, nursing, engineering, law, social work, agriculture, food and nutrition, construction management, automotive technology, and teacher education.
In the meantime, Dr Wheatley said despite the challenges brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, the programme continued.
“This past August, Mister Speaker, for the first time since the Territory was devastated by the two major hurricanes in 2017, this Government was pleased to be able to award 32 scholarships in various areas of study including medicine, nursing, engineering, law, social work, agriculture, food and nutrition, construction management, automotive technology, and teacher education,” he informed.
He said, the process was a competitive one, and over 90 applications were received for financial assistance to pursue higher education.
Dr Wheatley added: “I wish to inform the public that the scholarship application process recently reopened on September 15, 2020, for the awarding of scholarships for the 2021/2022 academic year. In 2020, the application process was hosted online for the first time in its history, which proved to be a success.”