Students at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for their education come September.
In a release issued Wednesday the university said a decision was taken by the UWI Council at its annual business meeting held at the campus last Thursday to increase the annual amount paid by students in tuition fees.
The decision, which takes effect at the start of the 2017/2018 academic year, is said to be “in accordance with its previous commitments to attain a cost recovery ratio not exceeding 20 per cent of total economic costs on all three campuses”.
However, UWI said the present cost recovery ratio at Cave Hill was approximately 17.9 per cent.
“Accordingly, fees at the Cave Hill campus in Barbados, which have remained unchanged for the past six years, will undergo a marginal increase in the academic year 2017/18. Tuition fees in the faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education, and Science and Technology will move from $5,625 to $6,000, an increase of 6.67 per cent. Tuition fees in the Faculty of Law will move from $8,808 to $9,000 –– an increase of 2.18 per cent –– while fees within the Faculty of Medical Sciences remain unchanged,” the statement explained.
The changes also affect graduate programmes financed by University Grants Committee (UGC). However, fees for the taught masters programmes remain unchanged, UWI said.
The move comes as a further blow for students who were affected by a major shift in education policy by the Freundel Stuart administration, which stopped meeting the tuition costs for Barbadian students back in 2013.
Since then Cave Hill has reported a dramatic fall off in the number of students pursuing graduate and undergraduate studies, which had earlier prompted Principal Eudine Barriteau to make an urgent appeal to Government back in 2015 to re-examine its tuition fee policy.
“At the beginning of the 2013 academic year, the total enrolment at the Campus was 8,711 of which there were 1,285 graduate students and 7,426 undergraduate students enrolled. At this same time . . . when the policy was first introduced the enrolment of the Campus stood at a grand total of 6,936, of which there were 1102 graduate students and 5, 834 undergraduates,” Barriteau had said at the time.
Since then the campus has published in its 2015/16 annual report, further detailing the precipitous fall in its enrolment which has plummeted even further to 6,065 in academic year 2015/16 to 5,507 in 2016/17.
The decline in enrolment has been blamed on the 2013 budget announcement by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler of the policy shift which effectively reduced the subventions to UWI by an estimated $42 million a year.
Following that announcement, the Guild of Students had also appealed directly to Government to reconsider the policy, predicting that it would have a significant effect on the campus’ enrolment.
However, Government has stuck with its decision, announcing instead that an estimated 3,000 bursaries would be provided to help students attend the tertiary institution.
Though cognizant of the “severe challenge” already being faced by students in meeting their financial obligations, UWI Wednesday suggested that its hands were tied in the matter.
In fact, the campus revealed that the increases could have been much more onerous, but that the 43 per cent across-the-board hike in tuition fees which had been recommended was rejected out of hand by its administration.
The campus also suggested that the approved changes have already received the blessing of the Guild of Students, as it urged the general student body to take advantage of all available funding opportunities, including scholarships, bursaries and other forms of financial assistance.