Bhutan currently has two higher education institutions — the public Royal University of Bhutan and the private Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan. The Royal University of Bhutan was established by royal decree in 2003 and consolidated the management of higher education in the country. The university is decentralised and has eight constituent college and one affiliated college, all spread across the country, though its central offices are based in the capital, Thimpu. The Royal University of Bhutan maintains close links with universities in Canada, the US, Austria and India, which offers students opportunities for student exchanges and internships. The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences was founded in 2013.
The university’s constituent colleges offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a wide range of subjects and there are plans to offer PhD programmes in the future. The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in medical disciplines such as Nursing, Traditional Medicine and Public Health. Undergraduate courses usually last for three years. Master’s degrees usually take between one to two years. Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan though the majority of degree programmes in the country are taught through English. International students are advised to contact their institution of choice directly. Admission is usually determined by school examination results, a personal statement and some institutions require an interview, an admissions test or other written work, though international students should note that the constituent colleges of the Royal University of Bhutan set their own admission requirements and these can vary. The most popular courses in Bhutan’s universities are teacher training programmes, followed by business and management programmes.
Tuition fees vary by institution but international students at the private Royal Thimpu College, for example, can expect to pay around $5,000 per year. The government of Bhutan provides a limited number of scholarships, though these are only available to students from Bhutan, and an estimated 75% of all students from Bhutan receive full scholarships. For those students from Bhutan whose grades are not high enough to qualify for the state scholarship, tuition fees are about $1,100 to $1,400 per year. However, it has become increasingly popular for those students to instead travel abroad to study in Indian universities.
Information for International Students
Institutions can offer international students assistance with the visa process. A number of constituent colleges of the Royal University of Bhutan, such as Royal Thimpu College, welcome applications from international students. Living in the country, is significantly less expensive than living in the United Kingdom and students can expect to spend about $500 per month, no rent included.