December 11: Due to the rise in the number of students going to Australia and Canada for higher education, there is a shortage of Australian and Canadian dollars in the market. Although students pay university fees through bank transfer, there is a shortage because they use cash for personal expenses. The people in general have complained that they are not getting proper facilities for foreign currency exchange even from the counter of Nepal Rastra Bank.
The central bank is currently providing students with cash of up to 300 Australian and Canadian dollars after confirmation of visas and air tickets. If they require more than this amount, the students can get it through the verified electronic card issued by banks and financial institutions, said Dilliram Pokharel, deputy spokesperson of Nepal Rastra Bank. He admitted that due to the low cash reserve, the students could not be provided with adequate facilities as per their demand.
"With the increase in the number of students going to Australia and Canada, there is an increase in pressure for currency exchange through the medium of cash," he said. However, he said that there is no problem for currency exchange through other means.
Currently, the central bank has made arrangements for foreign exchange facilities to students going abroad for higher education based on the 'No Objection Letter' issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Students are given the facility on the basis of theitr university bill to pay the fees. In addition, up to USD 2,500 is also provided for their passports.
Deputy Spokesperson Pokharel said that the tendency to look for exchange facilities in cash has led to a shortage.
"Currently, we have enough foreign currency reserves so there is no problem in providing the same facilities as specified," he said, "The problem has surfaced because they seek cash rather than such facility through electronic means."
Yuvraj Karki, the operations manager of Oli and Associates, an organization that has been providing educational consultancy to students, said that students consider it a hassle to carry dollar cards. He shared that if the dollar card is converted into local currency, it will be expensive, so the students look for cash as much as possible.
According to the instructions of the central bank, students can also exchange a minimum of USD 2,500 to a maximum of USD 8,000 for the annual subsistence expenses. Accordingly, they can avail up to USD 2,500 to study in Bangladesh and Pakistan, USD 4,000 for China, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, USD 6,000 for Singapore and South Korea, USD 8,000 for Canada, America, Australia and European countries and up to USD 5,000 for other countries.
With the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Nepalis going abroad for higher education is increasing. Due to this, the capital flight from Nepal for higher education is also increasing.
According to the data of NRB, Rs 32.92 billion have been spent for higher education in the first three months of the current fiscal year. During the corresponding period of last fiscal year, Rs 17.89 billion were spent for higher education. Last year, a total of Rs 142 billion were spent on higher education abroad.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, by mid-October of the current fiscal year, more than 30,000 people have received no objection letters to study abroad.
Spokesperson for the ministry Shiva Kumar Sapkota said that most of the students have applied for studies in Australia, Canada, Japan, America and the UK. In the last fiscal year, more than 100,000 people were issued no objection letters by the ministry for studying abroad.