The registrar of the state-owned Barbados Community College (BCC) has challenged the school’s board of management over its “unilateral” decision to scrap the associate degree programme in nursing and pharmacy and replace it with the bachelor of arts just about two months before the start of the new semester.
Registrar Syndey Arthur told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the decision, which was made at the board’s July 15 meeting, was done in a vacuum without considering the impact a massive jump in fees for Barbadian students from $320 per year to $2,500 would also have on the ability of poor families to find that money at such late notice.
Arthur said the catalogue advertising the various courses, including the associate degree in nursing and pharmacy, was released to the public November and applications starting pouring in the following month.
“On the basis of this information people out there who had an interest in nursing would have made applications for the associate degree in nursing. In fact, we received in excess of 300 applications for nursing. We would take in about 80, 90 students,” he added.
As a result, the BCC registrar noted that people in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean applied on the basis of what the college had publicized.
“This board waited until July 15 to inform us that the associate degree in nursing will no longer be offered. The only condition that I know of that we don’t run a programme is if it is under subscribed. This programme was no way near undersubscribed,” he emphasized.
Arthur said while he did not have a problem with the introduction of the Bachelor’s programme, he was upset that the catalogue which was released did not even list the bachelor’s degree nor the new increase in fees for that course.
“This is the other critical point. Over the last three or four years when we were offering bachelors degrees, Barbadians paid only $320 per year. When they announced they were replacing the associate degree in pharmacy and nursing with the bachelor’s degree, they never attached any fees to it.
“They never went to the press and say, ‘well these are the fees people have to pay’. So what will people do? People know you got a bachelor of fine arts, people know you got a bachelor of education and people only pay $320, so that is what they expected. They decided at the last minute in July, that you have to pay $2,500 a year.”
He surmised that most people in Barbados did not have that kind of money readily available to pay at such late notice. Arthur also noted the public was only informed by the board of the Bachelor’s Degree and the new fees about two weeks ago and were required to register this week.
“What made matters worse was not only did they inform the public of Barbados about these fees late, but then they send me a letter telling me that they have to pay the fees in two installments. So if a student is enrolled to the BA in nursing they have to pay $2,500 plus $300 which is about $2,800, they have to pay at least $1,500 of that now and the next half at the start of the second semester,” added the BCC registrar.
He said the majority of Barbadians struggled to pay $300 and many of the students who take the nursing course did not come from a middle class background.
Arthur disclosed that the 80 students who had been accepted to pursue the associate degree in nursing and pharmacy have not claimed their acceptance letters because of the last minute notification of increased fees and the six to eight weeks it would take for applications to the Student Revolving Loan Scheme to be processed.
In a letter dated July 23, 2015,the registrar recommended that the board rescinds its decision to drop the associate degree and introduce the bachelor’s in the foreseeable future.
He has also warned the board that its decision could be deemed a breach of contract with the public.