The Freundel Stuart administration says it’s sticking to its guns to make Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies start pulling their pockets for tuition fees from next year, even though welcoming a new private sector fund to bail out those who cannot afford to pay.
The firm position was taken today by Minister of Commerce and International Business Donville Inniss, while launching a new charity known as Global Education Scholastic Trust. Inniss said the Government had done the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate and would carry through with it.
“It is not easy for me as a politician that would have taken part in recent debates to introduce tuition fees at UWI with effect from 2014, but it is one of those things we felt we had to do, and we stand by that decision.”
President of the Students Guild at Cave Hill, Damani Parris, told Barbados TODAY, even though students were still negotiating a review of the planned introduction of the fees, he too welcomed the new fund, which was set up by the Second Street, Holetown, St James-based JLT Towner Management (Barbados) Limited, with an initial investment of BDS$200,000.
Parris also suggested that other private sector entities follow suit.
The charity’s top brass said it was collaborating with the Cave Hill Campus to identify what had been referred to as “at-risk” students.
President and chief executive officer of JLT Towner Management, Ricardo Knight, told Barbados TODAY, a means test would now have to be worked out with the UWI.
He said the trust, which was registered last Monday, is aimed primarily at raising and donating funds for the advancement of education in Barbados, with a particular focus on individuals who are challenged with meeting the financial commitment of funding a university education.
The first instalment of money into the trust fund was contributed by Global Tuition & Education Insurance Corporation, an exempt insurance company which was incorporated in Barbados in 1998. “The intent of the charity, which will be run by a board of trustees, will be working in conjunction with the University of the West Indies to identify students that would be at risk, or potential students that would be at risk. We expect that the university would be a primary source, because they would have the systems in place to identify these types of students,” Knight pointed out.
“We are working mainly with the University of the West Indies . . . . We are hoping, using their infrastructure, they would be able to provide that information and then we will be able to make a selection based on recommendations that they would make. We understand, that with the new costs that have to be paid, that there would be some means test, that would allow potential students the opportunity to get an education through the University of the West Indies. But we are not clear as to how that test will work, and you know, as in most things, there are always people who fall through the cracks,” Knight stated.
“So, we are hoping,” the CEO added, “that we will be there in the event that those students who may not be . . . there may be some clear cases of people who meet the means test and would therefore automatically be given funding for the university education.”
He said there were those who sometimes might come from a family where only one parent was working, ”who, though they meet the cost, may have salary to meet cost . . . the extra things they would like to do for their children they cannot do”. Knight noted that there were those types
of situations which the charity would assist.