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Why stop school fees at UWI level?

speaking out

I declare my interest: I am a doctoral student at the Cave Hill Campus of the UWI.  I have a vested interest in not increasing my current fees. That is right; for those of you, like Senator Alwyn Adams, who are unaware of what being at the UWI has meant for young and old investing in studies, students at the Cave Hill campus have paid fees for each semester of three months, for several years now. If one is like me, a      postgraduate student, those can be as little as BDS$970 per year for the two semesters of a school year.

Surely $970 for a whole year is nothing, some of you would say. At the end the student gets to enjoy a big job and a big salary and live in a big house in a big development like Millennium Heights. And for that, they invested nothing.  Only the Government invested.

All of the above is being sold as true and it is a big fabrication to excuse a failure to think adequately. Studying at a university and reading for a degree is actually not an activity of consumption.

Reading for a degree is an investment activity of exceedingly high risk past 1990, where none of the benefits outlined above are remotely likely unless one is fortunate to become a well-known lawyer, a connected doctor, an accountant with an international firm, or one is from a wealthy family or one    with connections. Of course one could also become an elected member of parliament or better yet, a senator.

As a full-time undergraduate student one invests three years of one’s life of not earning any income (or being under-employed. Some students take any work they can easily do along with studying, such as being a gas station attendant, supermarket bagger, baby-sitter, and so on. Some might even take ‘real’ jobs on the sly from the university, but then their studies suffer).

As a full-time student one halts one’s care-free attention to every available social activity as university teachers actually do expect exams to be taken and these, at the least, involve studying notes – at the least.  Then there is the stress of seeing one’s school mates who are lucky (if they have been so lucky) work and advance while one is struggling to complete the degree. If one is part-time and usually with a family, well, need I say more about what one has to give up?

When you add to that the stress of hearing the society castigate you for being a freeloader while big business demands and gets freenesses from your parents’ or your packets which they denote as ‘concessions”, the risk now goes into possibilities of failure. If only students at the university could come up with an acceptable word for what they do for themselves, their families, their communities, their country    and the world.

Nevermind, their families who line the seats of the Gymnasium and their teachers who gather to cheer them as they pass out understand.  We are there to cheer and silently offer the prayers they surely need, and to say, “You did good!”

Me? I will not be able to complete without a miracle. My fees are going to be BDS$3,302.50. My net salary cannot support that. I could sell my spot of land which I managed to hold on to, and my house spot. I am not sure that is a good investment decision though as I am unlikely to                 become a senator.

Why not charge everybody education fees, from secondary level, Community College, polytechnic level up?  Given the excuses I have heard pass for explanations why one should charge university students, none of those levels of education are exempt from those explanation/excuses.


– Margaret D. Gill

(Student teacher, PhD hopeful)

5 Responses to Why stop school fees at UWI level?

  1. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne March 29, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Agree. I am in that club.

  2. Kevin Blackman-Sonny March 29, 2014 at 8:06 am

    What you are proposing may sound like a good idea, but I’m afraid that will cause a catastrophic downfall in our education system in Barbados.

    What you are asking for is the implementation of fees for school throughout ones whole life and parents might not be able to handle on their current salaries. When that happens, the children of parents would be forced to have their children stay home. That’s even if they do start school.

    Upon enforcing your idea, you will be giving our Father of Independence, The Right Honourable Errol Walton Barrow a big slap in his face for something he fought so hard for us to have, and that’s a FREE education.

    What I’d propose, and you and anyone can disagree is a educational tax to be taken out of every working person in Barbados’ which I believe will help tremendously in lowering if not depleting the cost of education at any level of study:- from Primary School to the University level.

  3. B.S.L. Fitzgerald March 29, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Bajans fail to grasp the concept that the University of the West Indies is a regional and not a local institution. The list of “hardships” and “sacrifices” that bajans endure outlined here are endured by our Caribbean brothers and sisters and at a substantially higher cost. What makes bajans feel so entitled to special treatment?

    A. Consider that the typical international student pays significantly more than a bajan student to begin with. Surely he has the same three years of not being able to earn significant income and, furthermore, the option of working at a gas station or a supermarket is not readily available to him as is the case of his bajan counterparts.

    B. Consider that he too, being a young person, wants to attend all the social activities under the sun but cognizant of his substantial financial investment which enabled him to come all the way from his country to get a higher education, his socialisation needs no longer remain a priority.

    C. In any event his financial investment and hard work will get him the same degree bajans were getting almost for free over the years but, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that he will get a job, big house or all of those luxuries outlined either.

    My point is that although the circumstances of this payment of tuition is undesirable, to say the very least, it was inevitable. Some of us appreciate education but we don’t fully comprehend the value of it until we’re faced with situations like these. The fact of the matter is that the government can’t sustain it any longer in the manner we are accustomed to, so what do we do; keep noise for them to produce money they clearly do not have or find more logical alternatives?

    For me the way forward is to either come up with an equitable solution and lobby government to consider it or make steps to adjust to the new system and empower ourselves to make the system better in time. I’m one of the persons who have to pay come September and I may very well have to discontinue my studies until I have enough money to resume, but this financial burden is also the reality of our Caribbean brothers and sisters. Granted they had more time to contemplate their investment but that does not negate the fact that the investment was made regardless of the cost. I say get rid of the entitled attitude, take a positive risk on your education and be the change you want to see in society.

  4. Nakita Xiv Iniestaxavivilla
    Nakita Xiv Iniestaxavivilla March 29, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Good luck Margaret…….One day soon you’ll be Dr. Margaret Gill if you have to sell jewelry, take out a loan…..Do WHATEVER you need to to get your PhD best of luck

  5. Carolyn Cadogan March 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

    May I offer some suggestions? Now if I am correct a Phd is typically a 4 yr investment and seeing you are currently a student I shall assume that you have completed at least one of those years. Therefore you have a roughly three more years left. This means that you tuition for these 3 yrs will be around $9907.5, let’s just round it off to $10K. So here are some suggestions the student revolving loan fund is there to help students that need the funding and you will only be paying a very low interested and payment won’t start to a year are so after completion of your studies. This would mean you have a year to raise your first few payments. And also it allows for you to select how much you would wish to pay back monthly. Now if you repay this loan in 2 years then your monthly payment will be $454.61 and if you pick a 4 year repayment plan then your monthly payment will be $237.88. This should be very do able if you save at least $300 a month in year grace period and putting on a bank or credit union this money will be getting some interests over that time you’re saving it. Now seeing you have land another thing you can do is to rent your land (if its undeveloped) for agricultural purposes that way you have some money coming in addition to your part time job. This would mean that you could borrow less money and be out of debt sooner. The land rental can also be something you do in the grace period of the loan to help save money. These are only two suggestion but as a Phd student I sure you can think of more. And remember the whole point of graduate school to show innovation. So think outside the box and don’t just through your hands in the air and give up.
    Good Luck to you
    “ You never fail until you stop trying”


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