PORT OF SPAIN –– More than a 100 students of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) St Augustine Campus locked and blocked the main entrance gates of the university early yesterday in protest of their withheld grades.
“Release our grades now,” said guild president Matthew Peters outside the North Gate. “That is what we are asking for. We haven’t seen our grades. It is unfair to us. While the other unions are in their negotiations, we are negotiating too.
“We are doing our protest,and let all the stakeholders come together and do not disenfranchise our students again. It is unfair to us. We are the major stakeholders in the University of the West Indies,” he added.
For the past three weeks the lecturers have not released the students’ semester one grades. Because of that many students, particularly regional students, have not been able to access their funding, registration or even library services.
Peters added: “We need our international students to get our grades. We need our national students to get our grades. It is affecting our registration process. It is affecting our regional students from accessing their loans from their governments and their banks; and, without seeing the academic transcripts, the regional students do not know what to do. They are in
He said some of the international students could not come back to Trinidad without knowing their grades.
“[At] the end of the day, it is called the University of the West Indies, not the University of T&T. So we, the guild, stand in support of our international students and we are also fighting to ensure that our grades are being met,” Peters said.
At about 6 a.m. students locked the South Gate entrance, stopping vehicles and pedestrians from entering.
UWI staff members eventually cut the chains on the gate allowing people to walk through. However, the students refused to move and vehicles were unable to enter the campus’ grounds. Police officers were also on the scene to ensure the safety of those on the grounds. The protest action was made up mostly of regional and international students.
A statement last night from UWI campus principal Professor Clem Sankat said the Ministry of Tertiary Education had agreed to release $100 million from the Government Assistance For Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme to give lecturers their backpay. A statement said $50 million would be released by the end of next month and a further $50 million by the end of May. This would allow UWI to pay 50 per cent of salary arrears in March and the balance in June, Sankat said.
Yesterday Wigut president Dr Russell Ramsewak said members met on the matter but declined to say if the union was accepting the proposal.