AGO REPORT: SCHOLARS FAIL TO SERVE BOND, MOE FAILS TO PUNISH THEM & RECOVER PUBLIC FUNDS

Lapses in Monitoring and Enforcement of Scholarship Bonds

AGO found that the Ministry of Education did not maintain adequate oversight of the NTU and NUS to ensure that recipients under a scholarship scheme who failed to serve their bonds were reminded of their scholarship obligations and liquidated damages were imposed where warranted. Total disbursements for the scholarship scheme were $36.52 million in the financial year 14/15.

Without proper oversight of the monitoring and enforcement actions on fulfillment of the scholarship bonds, there was no assurance that the scholarship grants were used optimally for the intended purpose.

AGO’s test checks of the two universities’ follow up on 30 scholars where records showed that they were not serving the required bonds revealed the following lapses:

a) 14 cases where there was a lack of follow up by the universities. The universities did not send any letters to remind scholars of their bond obligations and the consequences of not fulfilling them, or Letters of Demand to impose liquidated damages where warranted. Based on MOE’s guidelines, at the time of audit in Oct 2015, there letters were already between 1 to 22 months late.

b) 2 cases where the Letters of Demand were sent after a lag of 17 to 26 months.

In AGO’s view, MOE should maintain oversight of NTU and NUS’s monitoring and enforcement of the serving of bonds by the scholars. AGO observed that the universities would submit reports on the bond status of scholars to MOE annually.

MOE informed AGO that it would put in place additional checks and work closely with NTU and NUS to further ensure that tracking and enforcement are carried out in a timely manner.

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