With Government directing students to its Student Revolving Loan Fund as a means of meeting their financing requirements, Barbadian students at the three University of the West Indies campuses are crying out that the current provisions are not enough.
The concern was raised during a Press conference today at the Cave Hill Campus hosted by the UWI Guild of Students, the Barbadian Student Association of Jamaica and the Barbados Student Association in Trinidad and Tobago.
The three associations have set up a joint committee on the Tuition Fee Issue affecting Barbadian students and have vowed in the face of the Government’s determination to abandon paying tuition costs, to continue the fight for the worthy cause.
“We continue to be concerned about the capacity of the Student Loan,” said Guild President Damani Parris, who asked a series of questions of the Government:
“How can it reasonably ask that students fit their expenses into $50,000 for the entire course of study, while having Barbadians studying Medicine locally, and having students who study at other UWI Campuses? What has been the basis of this figure?
“How can the Government insist that the loan only cover tuition, leaving all other expenses to the student, who may not be able to procure other financing solutions due to the fact that they already have that loan? Did they not realise this disadvantages the students?”
Also speaking at the Press conference, Saashen Sealy, president of the Barbados Student Association of Jamaica, said that with the implementation of the tuition fee, Mona Campus students must acquire approximately $5,000 more per year to guarantee their studies and approximately $12,000 per year for
Sealy said this meant that the costs for Barbadian students studying at the Jamaica campus will skyrocket to approximately $72,000 to complete their degree or approximately $117,000 for Medical Students.
“As my colleague Mr Parris said, it is of great concern that a maximum of only $50,000, can be lent from the student loan to pursue studies at the University of the West Indies especially us at the Mona campus, where our figures suggest that without tuition cost, the average cost, as we have ascertained, so far is approximately $19,000 per year to pay for our accommodation, plane fare and general cost of living in Jamaica.
“The average Barbadian Mona student therefore must finance approximately $57,000 to pursue an undergraduate degree in the faculties of Science and Technology, Humanities and Education and Medical Science,” Sealy said.
Meanwhile, Javon Webster, president of the Barbados Student Association in Trinidad and Tobago explained that to study Engineering, which is one of the courses not offered at the Cave Hill Campus, Barbadian engineering students attend St Augustine where tuition costs average $6,000 a year, along with the same amount in accommodation.
Webster said the Student Revolving Loan Fund, where most students are awarded $12,000 a year, would only cover tuition and accommodation leaving other expenses unpaid, therefore leaving students uncertain as to how meals, stationary and other learning materials will be financed.