For the first time in post-Independent Barbados, Barbadians will have to pay tuition fees to attend the University of the West indies.
This was revealed this evening by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, as he delivered his much anticipated 2013 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly.
“The Government of Barbados recognises that access to education at all levels has been a key factor in the success of Barbados as a society and an economy.
“The DLP remains committed to, and fully supportive of, the continued growth and development of UWI Cave Hill and increased access to tertiary education for Barbadians. In about 2003/2004 the Cave Hill Campus began a major expansion in terms of the numbers of students and the amenities offered.
“In 1999 for example, there were around 3,568 undergraduate students at the Cave Hill and by 2007 this number had increased to around 6,718 and currently stands at around 7,200 students. The expansion has meant major increases in the Government of Barbados’ contribution to UWI.
“For example, in 2007, the financial contribution of the Barbados Government to UWI Cave Hill was $79.3 million dollars, a $28.3 million excess over the $51 million required in 1999. However, between 2007 and 2008 the annual contribution required from the Government of Barbados increased from $79.3 million to $120.5 million.
“To put things in context, for the entire period 1999 to 2007 combined, the total contribution required from the Government of Barbados to the Cave Hill Campus was $543.2 million, compared to the $636.3 million contribution required for the 2008 to 2012 period. The reality is that the amount required in the last five years was $93 million greater than the previous nine years combined.”
The minister added: “The stark reality is that since around 2006 or so, the total contribution by the Government of Barbados to UWI has exceeded the combined contribution to all of our nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools, Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
“While remaining committed to providing continued access to university education, the Government cannot continue to preside over a situation where the growth and development of the non-university component education system is severely retarded. The country needs to be able to build capacity at all levels.
“As a consequence, the Government has decided that in an effort to assist it in meeting the exploding costs of university education it has now become necessary to ask students attending and desirous of attending the University of the West Indies to contribute to their education in a more direct manner.
“This policy will reduce the transfer to UWI by an estimated $42 million a year. “
“Therefore effective 2014 Barbadian citizens pursuing studies at campuses of the UWI will be required to pay tuition fees from academic year 2014/2015, while the Government will continue to fund economic costs. According to the most recent scale of fees, tuition fees for students in the Faculties of Humanities and Education, Social Sciences and Science & Technology are $5,625 for a full time student (half for part-time) and economic cost is $28,125.
“For the Faculty of Law tuition fees are $8,808 and economic cost $44,040, while for the Faculty of Medical Sciences — Clinical tuition fees are $16,618 and economic cost $83,090, and for Medical Sciences — Pre-Clinical tuition fees are $65,000. The Government will continue to pay all of the economic costs…
“This policy will reduce the transfer to UWI by an estimated $42 million a year. The Ministry of Education will provide further details on a Means Testing Mechanism to ensure no deserving person is denied access to university education because of the means of their parents or themselves.
“The ministry will also outline adjustments to the Student Revolving Loan Scheme to ensure that adequate access to loans with attractive repayment terms is available while the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs will in the coming week work with local finance houses to establish a National Registered Education Savings Plan with appropriate tax allowance provisions for savers. We also expect that our commercial banks, credit unions and other lending agencies will come forward with other attractive packages.
“Mr. Speaker Sir, we appreciate that this is a major shift in policy, not just for this administration but for the country as a whole and it will meet with its fair share of criticism. We expect that and will take on board all constructive suggestions as to how we can deal with this very challenging issue.
“However my hope is that the discourse that will no doubt ensue will also take cognisance of the reality that the Government simply cannot continue to contract such huge amounts of expenditure for which it knowingly has no sustainable means of meeting.
“Since these expenditures missed today become huge debts tomorrow (which we are daily reminded by the management of the UWI are owed to them) it is simply not the responsible thing to do.”