The Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is preparing for a rush of new students following Government’s announcement that it would once again pay the full tuition costs for Barbadians attending the tertiary institution.
UWI Principal Professor Eudine Barriteau today revealed that since the announcement by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in her mini Budget on June 11, there had been an exponential rise in interest from Barbadian students.
In fact, so high is the interest, she said, that the university has had to extend the application deadline for this academic year by two months.
“We are in the application season and that announcement was only made last Monday in the mini Budget. What we have seen since then is a spike in interest by Barbadian students calling to find out if it is indeed true that the fees have been removed,” Barriteau said in response to questions during a conference themed, The UWI at 70: The Next Phase, held at the university’s regional headquarters in Mona, Jamaica.
“What we have done since the announcement is to extend the application period until late August,” she explained.
In keeping with a general election campaign promise by her Barbados Labour Party, Mottley last week reversed the then Democratic Labour Party Government’s 2013 decision to introduce undergraduate tuition fees for Barbadians attending UWI.
The reversal of the decision will cost the Treasury an additional $22M annually.
The Cave Hill campus had reported a dramatic decline in the number of Barbadian students enrolling at the tertiary institution in the 2014/15 academic year as the Government’s austerity measures began to take effect.
Campus Registrar Ken Walters had said at the time that overall, there had been a total of 1,468 students registering that year, down from 2,240 at the start of the previous academic year in 2013.
There was also a 45 per cent fall in graduate students registering – 477 registering in 2014, compared to 875 in 2013 – while overall student registration had dropped by 28 per cent, from 8,713 to 6,229. The number of new students also dropped, from 2, 240 to 1,468 that year.
By September 1 last year there were 4,203 students at the campus – 317 graduate and 3,886 undergraduate, reflecting a further fall after the university increased tuition fees, with the social sciences, humanities and education, and science and technology and law faculties the primary victims.
Barriteau revealed today that prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement, the number of new and returning Barbadian students on campus had fallen by two per cent when compared to the previous academic year.
“Last year we had 1,565 Barbadian students but by today’s date we had 1,536 students. This is a marginal reduction of approximately two per cent. However, in the last week the numbers had started to go up and we think that it is matter of the penetration and saturation of that information. By late August we would have a more reliable number of students returning to the Cave Hill campus,” said Barriteau, who noted that the allure of Cave Hill had been enhanced by the introduction of new courses.
“About two weeks ago we had a press conference announcing new programmes and I am happy to announce that persons are expressing great interest in these courses,” the principal said, adding that a childhood education programme had topped the applications outside of the faculty of medical sciences.
It was in his 2013-14 Budget presentation that then Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had announced that effective 2014, Barbadian students pursuing studies at UWI’s three campuses would be required to pay their own tuition fees, while Government would continue to fund economic costs.
Sinckler said at the time the tuition fees ranged from S$5,625 to S$65,000 and the new policy would reduce the transfer to UWI by an estimated BDS$42 million a year.