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Investment in students needs to be repaid

Chamber of Commerce president John Wight

Dear Sir,

John Wight wrote a thoughtful opinion in this paper several weeks ago and it has been a topic of editorials about the need to sustain an educated population in Bermuda.

Here is an idea I would like to propose: every overseas education scholarship has an additional codicil tying recipients to return to Bermuda to work after their studies.

Many Bermudians take Bermudian-sponsored education money and use it as a stepping stone to leave. We need Bermudians back home.

In other words, if you get a two-year grant, you must return to work in Bermuda for two years after graduation. If it is a four-year grant, then a four-year commitment.

This arrangement could allow a student, say, a five-year period where they could work overseas to get experience, but after that they must return or repay the scholarship.

This money could be given to an additional student. It will not be a burden to the student because they will have been working for five years. A workable repayment schedule should be included with the scholarship agreement.

Some students choose to study subjects that have no bearing in Bermuda. That’s fine. It’s their choice and they have received the education they need to pursue that subject.

They will find something to do in Bermuda. After all, they have been taught reliance and have the ability to adjust. After the payback period, they can find a job overseas in their chosen subject.

The Government funds many of the scholarships, and it is our money it is using, so this idea should have appeal.

It requires no laws to be passed or great decisions to be made.

The students need only to sign a legal document stating that they will work in Bermuda for the two or four-year period, and if they fail to do so after five years, they are legally required by the contract they sign to repay the money.

I hope Mr Wight, through the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, will encourage all those who generously give scholarships to consider this.

If all do it, it will make a difference in returning educated Bermudians home.