Four days into the new semester at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Opposition spokesman on education Edmund Hinkson has blasted Minister of Education Ronald Jones for leaving scores of students in the dark regarding promised funding to cover their tuition fees.
“It is totally unconscionable to have them in a state of complete uncertainty as to what is going to happen to their lives in the immediate future,” said Hinkson who disclosed that anxious students and relatives had been complaining and expressing concerns to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) about whether they would be able to continue their courses this semester.
Jones had announced on July 11 last year, that the Government would fund 3,000 bursaries as part of efforts to ensure that no qualified Barbadian would be denied entry to the UWI due to financial constraints.
The minister has since declined to explain the delay in providing the bursaries.
“We in the BLP are calling on the Minister of Education and the UWI administration to clarify whether or not Barbadians who attended any of the UWI campuses last year will be allowed to continue their studies there if they are at this time unable to pay their tuition fees for this semester,” Hinkson said.
“The public needs to know whether the position of the Barbados Government and the UWI administration is that these students, predominantly of working class background, will have to discontinue their tertiary education simply because they genuinely cannot afford to pay.”
A week ago, president of the UWI Guild of Students Damani Parris told Barbados TODAY that more than 1,000 students would be severely impacted since they were only admitted last semester pending the distribution of promised bursaries.
“What I am looking at now is a situation where, because of the fact that we had about 1,600 or so students depending on those bursaries, [there could be a significant decline] in terms of registration in the second semester,” he said.
Hinkson insisted that Minister Jones had a duty to fully outline the Government’s position to the students whom he said were only asking for an opportunity to improve themselves educationally.
“They [students] want to know whether there is any policy to allow them to register this semester in the case where they owe tuition fees for last semester. They want to know whether they will still be allowed to register for their courses if they are not in any position during the registration weeks to pay tuition fees.”