The anxiety is over for students of the Barbados Community College (BCC) and the Erdiston Teachers Training College worried about the payment of tuition fees this academic year.
Government today gave its word that it would cover those costs, along with the tuition fees for Barbadians pursuing studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw set out the administration’s policies on the payment of tuitions fees for tertiary students in a ministerial statement delivered shortly before Parliament adjourned for lunch.
Declaring that it was only “logical and fair” that there be a consistent tuition policy in education and training, she announced the “position offered to Barbadian students at the UWI should also be offered to other Barbadian tertiary students undertaking undergraduate programmes at both the BCC and the Erdiston Training College with immediate effect.
“However we must bear in mind the current state of our economy and the reduced scope that Government has for spending. And therefore, all fees paid by Barbadians for the 2018/2019 academic year at either of these institutions will be credited in full during the course of the academic year 2018/2019,” Bradshaw noted, while making it clear that “both part-time and full-time students at both the BCC and the Erdiston Training College will also be required to give back in recognition of these services provided by the state”.
The situation is similar for UWI students who were assured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in her June 11 Budget that Government would resume the payment of tuition fees from September.
The announcement, which sparked an increase in applications at the Cave Hill Campus, however resulted in confusion recently after parents and students had complained that they were being told by UWI they would have to meet the tuition costs themselves in the absence of official word from Government.
In breaking her silence on the issue, the minister said “concrete arrangements” would be made for payment of the tuitions fees for Barbadians attending all three UWI campuses.
“The Government of Barbados will pay directly to the UWI, tuition fees for Barbadians enrolled in undergraduate courses of studies. Government however will only cover the tuition fees for a second undergraduate degree if Barbadian students gained at least upper second class honours or if the second undergraduate degrees will be of significant relevance to national development,” she said.
Additionally, Government will cover the tuition costs for Barbadian students seeking a legal educational certificate granted by the Council of Legal Education of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Barbadian postgraduate students may also benefit from Government’s largesse, but they must gain at least upper second class honours in the first degree, or their postgraduate degree must be of significant relevance to national development.
Bradshaw revealed that a full list of national development programmes which will be considered for the 2018/2019 academic year would be released by August 3.
Government has also made provisions for students to benefit from an additional year in the event of circumstances which may force a student to repeat a year.
“If you are pursuing full-time studies, Government will cover tuitions fees for three years plus one, which is therefore four years and for part-time studies, four years plus one which is five years,” the minister said.
Like their other tertiary colleagues, UWI students will also be required to give back by “providing 150 hours of approved community service per year, whereas part-time students will be required to give back 100 hours of approved community service per year”.
And in anticipation of concern about the increased Government expenditure in lights of limited resources, Bradshaw insisted that the administration would use the savings from its debt re-profiling to fund the costs.
She stressed that Government viewed the payment of tuition fees as one of the critical measures “to halt social decline, to alleviate suffering and to build the foundation for a new national growth.
“A stagnant economy cannot be revitalized without a trained empowered, equipped workforce, nor can it be revitalized with heavily indebted consumers,” Bradshaw insisted.
The office of the students’ guild immediately welcomed today’s announcement, saying it was extremely pleased with the move.
“The guild counts it as a great victory and will now be working with the administration of the college to ensure this smooth transition for continuing students and new students,” it said in a statement.