Barbadians do not appear to be flocking to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in droves despite Government’s decision to pay for their tuition.
A UWI spokesman said an anticipated rush of students had yet to materialize, with only 200 more students having enrolled so far this year compared to the same period last year.
“We have 4,400 students registered so far. Of those, 317 are graduate studies, which surpassed that particular group’s numbers for the same time last year,” Communication’s Director Chelston Lovell revealed.
The campus had a roll of 4,837 students last year.
Since Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley announced in her June 11 mini Budget that she would reverse the then Democratic Labour Party Government’s 2013 decision to introduce undergraduate tuition fees for Barbadians attending UWI, the campus had been bracing for a major increase in registration.
Lovell said the numbers were likely to improve in the coming days, explaining that it was too soon make a determination as registration would remain open until the middle of September.
“From what I have been told the lines at admissions are very long so it is a continuing process. Also the lines were long this week because persons got their salaries this week and were only now able to pay the $500 amenities fee,” Lovell said.
“A lot of persons applied and were accepted but we don’t actually count them until they physically come and register because so many things arise that change people’s plans. For example, they may not have anyone to look after their kids while they are at classes or they simple need some time to put other things in place. So numbers at this stage is not an indicator of interest,” he explained.
Two weeks after Mottley announced the change in Government policy, UWI Principal Professor Eudine Barriteau had said there had been an exponential rise in interest from Barbadian student.
In fact, so high is the interest, she said, that the university 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 had 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
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 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. (CM)