Kiribati's secretary to cabinet, Makurita Baaro, has denied allegations that she influenced the secretary of education to provide a scholarship award to her niece.
This comes after it became known that Kiribati chose students for degree courses in Fiji who were not eligible.
Mrs Baaro says she only phoned the education secretary, Reina Tiimau, asking her to remember her when results of her niece arrived from the University of the South Pacific in Suva.
She says she never asked the secretary to give her niece a scholarship award.
A member of the Kiribati Scholarship Board says it had earmarked 10 suitable students to do degree courses at the USP.
But none of them got the scholarships and they were all passed over for 18 others.
Meanwhile, some parents are still asking the education ministry why their children failed to get a government scholarship when their results were better than those chosen to go to Fiji.