The Government of Barbados has provided a lifeline for students of the University Of The West Indies (UWI) who have been experiencing difficulties in meeting their tuition costs.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones announced today that, in just about a week’s time, 3,000 bursaries will be made available to the students. He also said that 2,500 first year students would benefit from loans under the Student Revolving Loan Scheme.
“I have read that young people have been saying that we need to do more now that we have made the adjustment in tuition fees, so based on the resources which we have under the Ministry’s control we should be able to do about 3,000,” said Jones, while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the Chinese government funded Confucius Institute today at the UWI.
The Minister said in light of the recent changes in the financing of tertiary education, Government was committed to offering assistance.
“Government is committed in its own way with all of its challenges to working with you through those challenges so we are able to conquer the journey.”
He added that the bursaries would not just be available for Cave Hill students but for those studying at the sister campuses as well.
“We are very conscious of those studying at Mona and St Augustine. We know that in order to study, you still have to carry something for accommodation, food, books, travel and so on. We are aware of that so the bursaries would impact them as well,” Jones said.
In addition to the bursaries, thousands of students will also benefit from the Student Revolving Loan Fund.
“We do not have all of the money but 2,500 students in the first year, would be able to access the fund which is like one third of the numbers,” he added.
He further stated, “for those going to Trinidad to do the Certificate in Law, there will be no charge.”
With regard to those studying Medicine, Jones said they would be told what the procedure was shortly.
Just yesterday, the president of the Guild of Students at Cave Hill, Damani Parris, complained that loan packages on offer by some of the commercial banks, carrying interest rates as high as 16 per cent, were simply too harsh for the students.
“It [loans] would not be like what we saw in the paper yesterday. Those figures are way beyond our own comprehension and understanding,” Jones said.
He added that students from all faculties would be able to benefit.
“They are not going to be 100 per cent but we are starting around 50 per cent of the cost so that you have a wider spread. We are working to deal with all the students at the university,” he said.
He urged everyone to stay focused in the midst of all the noise and disturbance.