Sue the government!
That is the advice of Queen’s Counsel and veteran Opposition MP, George Payne to Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, who will be required to pay tuition fees for the first time, from next year.
Payne, who was making his contribution this afternoon to the continuing debate in the House of Assembly, on the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presented on Tuesday, by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler. Payne, the MP for St. Andrew, said the pending tuition charges were another “draconian” measure contained in the budget; adding that people did not seemed to realise their seriousness.
“I am of the opinion that persons already at the University of the West Indies, might very well have a case for bringing an action against Government, because of the fact that they (students) have been made to believe … these students have been told specifically by the agents of government; the headmasters, the Ministry of Education; there are certain documents circulating which indicate very clearly, that they would not have to pay fees for three years; they have acted upon it,” he declared. “I take a situation of a medical student, with no means whatsoever to actually complete their education. They have acted on it, and to their detriment, because of the fact that now, they have to pay, they are unable to make the payments. Obviously there would be a significant loss of earnings if they had to give up their education at the university,” he pointed out.
Payne was of the opinion that in those situations, these Barbadians had a right to sue the Government.
“If the government decides that they must pay and they are not in an position to do so; I must say to those students who are already at the university, I am telling them, ‘do not pay one red cent’,” the Opposition parliamentarian urged.
Payne, however suggested that the Government should have gone about the matter a “little” differently.
“If they are dealing with an imposition with respect to tuition fees — increase in tuition fees — what should have happened is that it should apply to new students. And I believe that the Government should work with the university to find out ways and means in which funds could be raised in order that it would be unnecessary to make this imposition,” he added. Payne noted that American universities had a system for past students and parents of students and companies associated with those institutions, to make substantial donations to the universities.
“I believe that the cooperation of government in situations where certain tax allowances could even be given to persons who make contributions to the university; that a lot of these expenses could be recovered; and it would not be necessary to place the burden on those parents who are already heavily burdened as a result of the present economic situation,” stated Payne. (EJ)