The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is in danger of becoming a majority non-Barbadian institution by September, owing to a collapse of the Barbadian student population.
President of the Students’ Guild, Damani Parris, warned today that Government’s policy to make all Barbadian students – current and prospective – start paying their full tuition fee from August, had already resulted in a 40 per cent drop in applications across the board this year.
Speaking during a news conference, Parris also expressed fears that there could be a disappearance of some disciplines currently taught at the campus and a loss of global accreditation of degrees at the UWI, as he disclosed that undergraduate numbers for the various faculties had dropped drastically.
“For the Faculty of Humanities and Education, there has been a reduction in some 179 student applications, representing about 48.1 per cent of the applications for that faculty, down from the year 2013. A further reduction for Law occurred of 164 applications, down 26.9 per cent from 2013 numbers,” he said.
“We experienced falls of 85 persons in the very new Faculty of Medical Sciences, which has seen a reduction of 16.8 per cent from 2013 numbers. Science and technology suffered a fall of 106 applications, down 18.1 per cent from 2013 numbers,” the guild president said.
He noted that social sciences, the largest faculty on campus, saw a decline of 783 applications or 41.6 per cent. The total number of applications received was 2,640, a drop of 1,313 or a 33.3 per cent falloff.
“From the 3,957 applications we would have received the previous year, statistics indicate that before the articulation of this policy, the [number of] students who actually accepted positions at the university after making applications was roughly about 60 per cent. This means that 60 per cent of those total persons who would have applied took up their positions at the Cave Hill Campus upon becoming accepted,” explained Parris.
“If we are to look at this based on this year’s numbers, that 60 per cent of applications would have represented 2,374 actual admissions to the student body. If we are to look at it based on this year’s numbers, that 2,640 was actually reduced to a mere 1,584 actual students . . . if we remove the impact that would actually be made by the education policy,” the students’ spokesman declared.
Parris said the statistics represented new entry students and did not account for those currently enrolled.
“Of course, there is no way of predicting how many of these students would actually return, but it is almost certain, that a decline by a significant percentage would actually occur, meaning that the University would experience a decline across the board, both for new and continuing students.”
His view is that this state of affairs would result in the Cave Hill Campus becoming a majority non-Barbadian institution in the September semester. Parris also revealed that the total number of graduate students had fallen by 43.1 per cent, which he attributed to the Government’s withdrawal of the majority of scholarship support that would have been given in this area.
He feared, too, that a number of disciplines would disappear by the next term and that the lack of funding to boost development, could cause the campus to lose its global accreditation of degrees.
Parris warned that the student body had not taken any options from off the table, pointing out that injunctions and protests were being considered as possible methods to force Government’s hands on the matter.