The University of the West Indies’ Guild of Students is committed to removing all obstacles hindering the holistic advancement of students, President Thacher Loutin has declared.
And as the tertiary institution welcomes a notable increase in students for the 2019-2020 academic year, the student’s representative body has prioritised the removal of financial, social and other developmental challenges that cannot be solved in their classes.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Loutin lauded Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s decision to restore free tuition access for Barbadian undergraduates but admitted a significant amount of the financial aid budget would be dedicated to assisting full-time Barbadian students who continue to experience financial challenges.
“I have to say a big thank you to the Government of Barbados for restoring this free tuition and even though they get the free tuition, they are still students who are struggling with amenities, which is only $530,” Loutin told Barbados TODAY.
She revealed that the guild was also offering four full scholarships to help regional students with their tuition, but said large fundraising campaigns were to be aimed at assisting students with everyday needs.
“We understand that the region is going through a financial crisis and our students are struggling financially,” said Loutin.
“There are regional students from countries who have to pay large amounts of school fees. We also have financial aids and tuition grants in the form of welfare. So students can actually come to the guild, sign up the form and get their welfare.
“In addition, there is a joint partnership with the Governor-General [Dame Sandra Mason] in a project called Capital Campaign, which is set to finish in 2021 and coincides with the guild’s project where we try to get at least 500 alumni to donate $50 to the guild’s welfare programme. It’s basically to help people who are going through financial struggles.”
Aside from financial assistance, the Guild President said efforts were underway to facilitate students-entrepreneurs with business spaces around campus.
The student body has also pledged its support for wider engagement, particularly from local students in community outreach projects and other initiatives, which facilitate a more “fulfilling” overall, experience.
“We want them [Barbadian students] to go with us on the road, to these children’s homes and to engage with our homeless people. We want the students to understand that apart from academics, the Guild of Students wants them to be engaged in making their school life a more fulfilling experience than simply passing through.”
Meanwhile, the guild’s public relations officer Sydni Walker announced plans to help develop more practical skills among students and said the school’s island associations and clubs would be working overtime to fulfill that mandate.
“We are placing a big emphasis on developing their practical skills along with the skills that they have that oftentimes the nature of their programme doesn’t allow them the opportunity to bring out. So we’re going beyond the classroom and trying to give them the well-rounded experience that must define a Cave Hill student,” said Walker. [email protected]