Barbadian law students pursuing their legal education certificates at Hugh Wooding Law School are dreading the thought of dropping out because of massive arrears owed to the Council of Legal Education by the Barbados Government.
The Trinidad-based law school this morning advised the students by email from the office of Registrar that the Government of Barbados owes arrears dating back to over a year, and unless the debt is paid by the start
of the new school year the students will have to meet the full economic cost, in addition to a small compulsory fee.
However, one final year student who requested anonymity told Barbados TODAY he would be forced to drop out because he simply could not afford those fees.
“I’m mentally exhausted . . . .We all were thinking we could have taken a break for two weeks before starting our in-service training back in Barbados but we were just hit with this news,” he said.
“Law school is already challenging on its own and then to come to the realization that you made it out of the first year but you can’t complete your legal education certificate because of financial difficulty this Government has put us in is absolutely sad,” he added.
In the letter to the students, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, the Council for Legal Education said if Bridgetown fails to make a dent in the arrears “at the time of admission in September 2018, then, pursuant to Regulation 13 (3) (a) new students, in order to be registered for the academic year 2018-2019, Barbadian nationals will be required to pay the full economic cost of TT$97,546 (BDS$29,000) plus compulsory fees of TT$820”.
“If this position remains unchanged at the time of admission in September 2018, then, pursuant to Regulation and 13 (3) (b) returning students to Year II, in order to be registered for the academic year 2018-2019, Barbadian nationals will be required to pay the full economic cost of TT$94,704.61 (BDS$28,000) plus compulsory fees of TT$570,” it continued.
Barbadian law students were first required to pay tuition costs to the Hugh Wooding Law School in 2014, a year after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced in his 2013 budget that in an attempt to reduce transfers to the University of the West Indies (UWI) by $42 million a year, the Freundel Stuart administration would no longer meet those cost, but would continue to pay the economic costs.
That year, the fees that Barbadians pay to the law school jumped from $300 to over $2,000.
The concerned final year student who spoke to Barbados TODAY said many of his compatriots who already have loans from the Student Revolving Loan Fund for both UWI and Hugh Wooding would have great difficulty continuing their studies.
“I don’t think the Government has taken into account that we were the first set of students who have to pay for UWI for three years, which is just over $24,000, and we also have to pay for law school . . . . So having to pay the economic cost may force some students to drop out or defer until they can source the money.
“They may not be able to complete the programme and then there are the few that got scholarships which only cover a specific amount like mine, so we would have to source the difference or drop out,” he explained.
Local law students are required to complete a two-year legal certificate at Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad or the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, after completing completing the Bachelor of Laws at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies.