Lifeline handed to students left in the lurch by UT Tyler

More than a dozen universities in the United States have extended scholarships to students from Nepal who were left in the lurch after the University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) revoked full scholarships granted for their undergraduate programme.

Their response follows a campaign by the students, whose plight has met with a sympathetic hearing.

Dozens of students from Nepal who had been accepted by UT Tyler had their offers of full scholarships reversed in April as they were making final preparations to enrol for the August intake. Around half of them have managed to secure full scholarships at other institutions, after a major outcry over the ethics of rescinding financial assistance offers after they had gone out.

“Lobbying from different sectors has helped find the new placements, hopefully [our] remaining friends will also get a placement for the August intake itself,” Roman Shrestha, who received a full scholarship at the University of Denver, told University World News.

Following much publicity about their situation and appeals by the resourceful students, 25 of the students among the 61 initially affected have received scholarship offers from Drake University in Iowa, the University of Kentucky, SUNY Korea (State University of New York in Korea), Texas Christian University, University of Akron, University of Denver, Robert Morris University, College of Idaho, Caldwell University in New Jersey, Bethune-Cookman University in Florida and the University of Texas at Arlington.

“There could have been no better news than getting the placement at a time when I was worried about losing a year,” said Ojaswi Piya, who received a full scholarship from the University of Kentucky.

Around 20 have received full scholarships which include tuition, accommodation and other expenses while five others have received full tuition scholarships but have been trying to bridge the difference by looking for other funds.

Joan Liu, university advisor at United World College of South East Asia in Singapore, who has been tirelessly advising the students pro bono and helping them find alternative places though her network in the university admissions field, told University World News some other universities were willing to provide further support.

Blanket scholarship

The students are still holding out for full scholarship offers. Western Illinois University has offered a blanket scholarship of US$40,000 for four years to the students affected by the UT Tyler debacle. “We are looking [to see] if any special arrangements for housing [support] could be made to the students,” Shanker Ghimire, a professor at the university, said.

UT Tyler had agreed to provide a full scholarship worth US$21,000 a year for four years, covering tuition fees, accommodation, meals and books but revoked the scholarship some two months ago, saying the demand for the scholarships had exceeded their budget. The decision was taken after they had collected US$100 in confirmation fees from the Nepali students for the scholarship and US$125 for housing deposits.

The university told the students: “We initially thought we could include you as a fellow this year, but the popularity of the programme was far greater than expected.”

UT Tyler had then offered to provide a ‘Patriot Scholarship’, worth US$5,000 per annum and renewable for three years while allowing the Nepali students to qualify for in-state tuition fees, rather than the much higher out-of-state rate that usually applies to international students. The students, however, were not attracted by the offer. A majority of the students now have received back their confirmation fee and housing deposits from the university.

UT Tyler said in a statement: “We are deeply grateful for the independent efforts from the international admissions community to help impacted students land well.”