STUDENTS are not being forced to take other programs of study when given scholarships under the new National Toppers Scheme.
Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board chairman Dixon Seeto said this was an issue they have had to clear up with applicants.
Mr Seeto said they had advertised widely about the conditions of the scholarship scheme.
Several students had contacted The Fiji Times, disappointed they had to choose a different program from what they had applied for.
"For the accounting discipline, there are only 20 places given for this scholarship," Mr Seeto said.
"There has been an overwhelming demand for this scholarship and we are happy to say that many of these people actually have very high marks, many of them having well over 350 marks."
He said the allocation of scholarships for the various programs offered was selected on the basis of merit.
"The cut off for this particular area of study (accounting) is at a very high mark and unfortunately we have only 20 places. So the 20 places go to the top 20 students that apply with the highest marks."
Mr Seeto said passing the toppers program did not guarantee a student a scholarship.
"If you read the conditions it is very clear. For instance, we have a lot of places for agriculture — 85 places and there have been very few takers.
"This has been the problem we have been facing and this is why it has been taking a lot of time in trying to allocate scholarships to people.
"We have had to ask people to look at their second and third choices. We are not discouraging people to follow their area of study, many have, especially in the accounting field, elected to pursue that study topic and have taken loans to continue with that."
Mr Seeto said the board was only working around the rules and the number of spaces available.
He couldn't confirm how many scholarships had been awarded.
A total of 600 scholarships will be awarded under this scheme.