That’s how the president of the Guild of Students Damani Parris today described the current financial packages on offer by some leading commercial banks, which have made available loans to the University of West Indies (UWI) students to assist them in covering their tuition costs.
Parris, who also levelled the same charge against the Government, has rejected the proposed financial help saying the packages are “overly harsh” and the interest rates being charged are both “absolutely ridiculous” and “alarming”.
During a press conference at the Cave Hill Campus, the Guild Presiident said he had been receiving numerous complaints from frustrated students who were now unsure if they would be able to return to school or would have to abandon their studies because they had not qualified for bank loans.
He said there were some individuals, who had actually accepted loans on condition that they must complete their studies. However, the Guild President said many could not accept the offers because they simply could not afford the interest rates, which varied from 2.5 per cent to 16 per cent for commercial institutions.
“To request 16 per cent on a student loan is unheard of in the general student loan market speaking from the experiences of non Barbadian cases,” Parris said.
“The fact that 16 per cent is even considered is a little bit alarming and it seems as if we are being the victims of what can only be described as inter-generational theft.
“It is very unfortunate that not only are we victims of inter-generational theft on the side of the Government, but also on the side of even the institutions that are supposed to offer loans to the future of the country,” Parris complained.
“We are going to be these persons’ future customers and this is what we are being offered now? It is absolutely ridiculous in the opinion of the Guild of Students!” he stressed.
Insisting that the current conditionalities for accepting the loans were too onerous, he cautioned students that “if you take this loan tomorrow, by the next month you have to start paying back interest on the amount taken.
“That is simply unsustainable for most Barbadian households. The average Barbadian household would not be able to attain a situation where they are paying 16 per cent on a loan of tens of thousands of dollars. It is unattainable for the majority of working class households in the country, if not all of them,” he said.
Given the current concerns, the president said the Guild believes the commercial banking sector needs to urgently sit with representatives of the student body and the University to discuss tailor-made packages that would benefit the students and the institution.
The Guild President also plans to raise the matter with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler next week during a scheduled meeting.
However, he said they were still awaiting responses from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Education Ronald Jones to their requests for a meeting.