The president of the Guild of Students of the University of the West Indies, Damani Parris is trying to secure a meeting with the Minister of Education Ronald Jones to help avert a crisis for some Barbadians studying in Trinidad and Tobago.
Following reports that students at the Hugh Wooding Law School are being told they have to pay their full tuition fees even though assurances had been given that they would continue to receive Government assistance, Parris said he would be making representation on behalf of students.
He spoke about the situation facing students during the Barbados Labour Party-organised People’s Assembly last night in the Moot Court of the Faculty of Law at the Cave Hill Campus.
This followed a parent’s description of the situation in Trinidad as “not pretty”.
“Students have started with the understanding that their fees would have been paid, or the part of the fees, and I’m aware now of about three students who are already beginning to pack their bags because they just cannot afford to pay if the Government does not fulfill its obligation,” Henderson Griffith said.
In response, Parris confirmed the gloomy circumstances of the Barbadian students at the Hugh Wooding Law School which is one of two institutions where law students must complete a two-year certificate, the other being the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica.
The guild president said that during previous meetings with Government representatives they were assured of the financial support for these students, but “now the uncertainty has settled in and persons are still not sure”.
“We can’t have a situation where things spiral out of control at all campuses and it surrounds the Barbadian students. There has to be some consistency if there is going to be a future in education in the country, and we simply cannot allow the entire system of the University of the West Indies to collapse because of the fact that we were not ready for the implementation of this policy,” he said, as he indicated he would seek another meeting with Jones.
Opposition spokesperson on education, Edmund Hinkson, noted that the Hugh Wooding Law School students were “completely astonished to be told [Wednesday] that they now have to find, as I understand it, about $5,000 for the first year at law school, $6,000 for the second year”.
The MP for St James North said this broadside to the students already in Trinidad and attending classes comes despite assurances by Jones that no eligible student will be unable to attend the UWI, and promises of Government’s guarantee of student loans.
Several efforts to reach Minister Jones have been unsuccessful.