UWI students taking action against plans to have them pay tuition fees

Kasim Queeley and Candice Allain.
Kasim Queeley and Candice Allain.

Students at the University of the West Indies are not taking the introduction of the payment of full tuition fees from next year lying down.

In fact, the Students’ Guild has thrown out an invitation to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Finance Chris Sinkler, the Opposition, fellow students and all Barbadians to a town hall meeting on the matter tomorrow night at the university.

A petition from students to Governor General, Sir Elliott Belgrave, is making the rounds at the Cave Hill Campus, and Public Relations Officer of the Guild of Undergraduates, Kasim Queeley, has invited all Barbadians to the meeting on Thursday night at 7 at the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex..

Queeley told a team from Barbados TODAY, that the Guild hopes to have the petition signed by as many people as possible and forwarded to the Governor General.

The petition states: “The Government of Barbados decided to enact a policy where students are expected to pay full tuition fees from September 2014, as stated in the 2013 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals. We, the people of Barbados and the Caribbean at large, are concerned and urge our leaders to listen to the youth and make a change on the policy to have students pay tuition fees. We, the people of Barbados and the Caribbean at large want a full reversal of the policy to have the students pay their full tuition fees.”

The PRO said the Guild wanted all Barbados to attend the town hall meeting where the issue would be fully discussed and ventilated.

In his 2013/2014 Financial Statement and Budgetary proposals, Sinckler announced that beginning September 2014 all students at the university would be asked to pay the full tuition fee.

Sinckler pointed out that Government would make a saving of $42 million if the students attending the university paid their tuition fee, while the Government continued to underwrite the economic cost.

While Opposition spokespersons claim that the payment of tuition fees would deny many poor persons from benefiting from a university education, Government spokespersons gave the assurance that there would be a means test to ensure that the poor were not denied access to the university.

In addition, it was pointed out that the Student Loan Revolving Fund would be recapitalised to ensure that every eligible student could access funding for tertiary education.

In his presentation, Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, drew the analogy of a diabetic who protested strongly against amputating an infected toe, only to lose the whole foot a couple months later.

Brathwaite charged that if corrective action was not taken at this time, Barbados could face dire economic consequences in the future and stressed that no country in the world can provide free education from nursery to university, provide subsidised water and free health care ad infinitum. (NC)

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