CRISIS ON THE HILL
Guild president parris likely TO drop out, warns Sir Hilary
That is how principal Sir Hilary Beckles is describing the state of affairs at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, two days after the president of the Students Guild, Damani Parris, reported a 40 per cent decline in student applications for this year, as a result of Government’s decision to make all Barbadian students start paying full tuition fees from August.
Sir Hilary disclosed that the Guild president himself had told him he would have to drop out this year because he could not find the $7,000 needed to continue.
Sir Hilary is also suggesting that the fall-off is worse than what the president announced.
He said, it was more like 60 per cent. But what has him even more worried is the latest data that indicated a 20 per cent drop in students coming to Cave Hill from the Caribbean to study.
“Now this is catastrophic. We do not know how to explain that. We have done some surveys. I think the conversation
in Barbados has turned off a lot of students in the Caribbean. I think during the 50th anniversary also, there was a fair amount of unreasonable, I think erroneous, and, in some instances, damaging commentary on the Cave Hill Campus that has affected our prestige,” stated the principal during last night’s People’s Business television show.
“There is no doubt that in the last year or so we’ve had significant damage done to our prestige, and this has impacted, not only the Caribbean applications to Cave Hill, but the international applications to Cave Hill. So in a sense, there have been multiple things happeniing simultaneously; basically, the introduction of fees,” added the campus head.
He said, while it was not for him to criticize the Government’s policy on the fee structure, the UWI here was facing a crisis.
Sir Hilary, who is also UWI pro-vice chancellor, was of the opinion that existing students who felt the fees should not have been imposed on them had a reasonable argument and they should take it up with the Government.
“We are also getting some very disturbing information that there might very well be a significant drop of students who are already in the system, not being able to raise [between $6,000 and $20,000 per student per year].”
Sir Hilary referred to a case in which a father and his two children now studying at the campus were trying to decide which two of them would drop out due to the fee imposition.
“You would have two kids in the system at the same time and they would now have to find, let’s say, $15,000 for the two of them; and if one is doing law, you are looking at $20,000 for two kids at the same time. So those are some of the problems that we are going to be expecting, and already there are indications that many of the students who are currently in the system will be dropping out,” cautioned the principal, who said he had presented all of this information to Minister of Education Ronald Jones.