The Barbados Labour Party has called for Government to hold off on its plan to cut funding for Barbadians studying at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and to hold urgent town hall meetings on the controversial issue.
The appeal was made today by opposition spokesperson on education Edmund Hinkson and educator Cynthia Forde.
The MPs warned of the effect the move will have on students, families and the country, adding that far more dialogue is needed before the plan moves ahead.
“Put this issue on hold about tuition costs, let the Government pay for now and let the public come into play,” Hinkson told the media conference held at the office of the Leader of the Opposition.
He criticised the Freundel Stuart administration for also failing to consider a BLP proposal to waive tuition fees for eligible persons with disabilities.
“This is wrong. Why can’t you waive those fees. We have signed a convention at the United Nations [dealing with] persons with disabilities,” he said, noting that such individuals are among the most vulnerable in society.
Meantime, Forde warned that job losses at the university are inevitable once student enrollment continues to decline.
“You’re going to need less of the tutors [at that level] so the possibility of them going home as well is there. If these students are not going to be able to further their studies what will be their next step? Who will employ them when small businesses are closing down or struggling, big businesses are sending home people as well so the prospects of them getting employed are so limited?” she queried.
The call by the opposition members came a day after the Barbados chapter of the UWI Alumni Association urged Government to rethink its decision to make students already enrolled at the Cave Hill campus pay their own tuition.
Up to early this month, student enrollment was down at least 39 per cent with the Faculty of Social Sciences being the hardest hit at 46 per cent.