The Pro Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, Professor Andrew Downes, has expressed optimism that enrolment numbers will go up again, saying that the recent fall-off only means the campus is going through “an adjustment process”.
He said he expected the numbers to rise again once people have done some “recalculation”.
The drop in enrollment followed Government’s decision to make Barbadians pay their own tuition fees from the start of the current academic year. Outgoing principal Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has reported a 21 per cent decline in enrollment as of January this year.
“The fees were introduced at a time when people didn’t factor them into their calculation going forward,” Downes told Barbados TODAY.
“I am of the view that there will certainly be a recalculation. So there will be a drop initially and people will recalculate and they will probably gradually come back up, and we have to look for ways and means to provide support for some of those people.”
Saying he could not predict when the numbers would go back up or by how much, Downes, a professor of economics, said he was “certain” the numbers would move upwards.
“It might not get up to levels that we had in the past, but certainly it will move back up gradually over time … when people have recalculated their own financial circumstances and they decide that a university degree is financially affordable at the time to go back in,” he added.
Presenting a campus strategic plan in 2009, Sir Hilary unveiled his vision of one graduate per household by 2020, saying it was one way to ensure poverty was addressed.
Downes said he believed that was still possible since the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the Barbados Community College were now offering a range of degrees.
“I think that has now been redefined . . . to what we call a knowledge household, which is better in the sense [that] you may not go to the university to get a degree but you can go to the polytechnic or the community college,” he explained.
“What you want to do then is have a situation that within the household, persons have the knowledge-base that will allow them to overcome any economic and poverty challenges that they might have. Whether it is from university or polytechnic, it really doesn’t matter,” Downes added.