Students attending the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies should contribute something to their education.
Independent Senator and educator Alwin Adams made known his position today in the Senate while speaking on the Appropriation Bill 2014-2015.
Presenting his argument for why students should share the cost of their university education, the former principal of Coleridge and Parry said: “I want to say to them that when they hear what I say, they may be even more disappointed, because I am actually saying to them that I believe wholeheartedly they should contribute something to their education. I am in favour of tuition fees. I am saying that because you cannot expect to get something for nothing.
“I believe that they may be reluctant to pay tuition fees because they have come to see free education as part of human rights and even a social entitlement that they should just have. While that might have been so in the past, it certainly is not the case now. In life there was never anything free.
“In 1963, I was a young teacher at St Leonards’ when the university was opened at the Bridgetown Harbour. There were no buildings as such, and there were few students, probably less than 50. It was possible at that time to meet the cost. We are like Britain and most of the things they would have done we did.
“It was around 1963 that the British had a commission which reported that they expand university education. The chairman of that commission actually said that the expansion was possible because there was a lot of wastage of talent in the United Kingdom where at the time less than three per cent of the population was attending university thereby affecting economic growth and said that the cost could be covered
by taxation,” Adams added.
Adams told fellow senators that it must not be forgotten that the commissioner had told the British that a time would come when the students would have to pay some of the cost of their education from loans and grants.
“This is very significant. In the United Kingdom, the number of polytechnics and universities grew. In the UK, I not only got free secondary education but a living grant which was about the same amount of money I would have got if I was working.
“The number of universities in England expanded and there was an expansion of the university here in Barbados. It was interesting that by 1995, a commission was actually set up in Britain to look into the burgeoning cost of university education. The commission recommended that fees should be paid for education,” Adams said.
The Independent senator recalled that it was a Labour Party government that had introduced fees gradually since university education was not compulsory and therefore recipients should make a contribution.
Adams further recalled that a government fund was established to assist students, but they were not asked to repay any funds until they entered the workforce.