Shadow Minister of Education Edmund Hinkson wants the names of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus students who are awarded Government bursaries to be made public.
He said there is need for transparency to ensure only deserving students get assistance paying their tuition fees.
“The same way that they publish the names of the Barbados Scholarship winners and the Exhibition winners who gain monetary awards on the basis of merit, I am calling on the Government of Barbados to publish the names of all of those who will be given bursaries,” the St James North MP said as he addressed a constituency branch meeting at the St Albans Primary School last night.
“I am hearing on the ground about [whose] son and daughter getting bursaries, and who big DLP supporter child getting, and this can’t be fair. I ain’t asking them to publish the names of the people who get loans, because the student loan is a contract between the student Revolving Loan Fund Committee and the Ministry of Education and the individual; you are supposed to repay that. But a bursary now is free money that you don’t have to pay back.
“The people of Barbados are entitled to know that because it is our hard earned money, that is now in short supply, that is going towards that,”
While agreeing with Minister of Education Ronald Jones that people should wait until the close of student registration before pronouncing on what effect the Government’s policy on tuition fees had on student numbers, Hinkson was adamant that there was a significant fall off thus far.
He challenged the preliminary figures presented by Jones. The minister told the media last week that the number of students registering as of last Wednesday was only 400 less than for the same period last year.
Hinkson insisted that the number was 10 times that.
“The difference right now between 9,000 people who registered last year and 5,000 that are projected to register this year is 4,000, so he is missing a zero,” he told constituents.
He also reiterated the Barbados Labour Party (BP) position that asking students to pay their tuition fees starting from the upcoming 2014-2015 academic year was the wrong move.
“Everybody except the Democratic Labour Party Cabinet and their strongest supporters believe that this is a terrible mistake that the Government has made,” he said.
“Many students in this constituency and throughout Barbados have indicated that they cannot afford to go back to the university to continue their studies. Those who have planned to commence their studies at UWI have now put that on the backburner.”