Samuel turns to crowdfunding to finance law studies
A suggestion has been put forward to prospective and current students of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to seek crowdfunding to pay for their studies.
The proposal has come from Shalisha Samuel, 31, who is sourcing funds from the public to pay for a bar professional training course in the United Kingdom.
The aspiring lawyer told Barbados TODAY she started the process last December on the website generosity.com to raise the approximately £15,480 she needed for the nine-month course and has raised just over US$4,000 so far.
“I haven’t got all the funds as yet but the fundraising itself is doing very well, particularly as of very recent,” she said.
“I know it is an unusual approach, I know some people could be very uncomfortable about it because it is public asking, but I think we have come to a point now where in some respect, we don’t have a choice. So the pride, the ego, and ‘that is not the first choice of how I want to pay for my studies’, we have to kind of put that aside. You have a goal and this is an avenue for you to achieve your goal,” Samuel said.
In a reference to Government’s decision to have Barbadian pursuing studies at the campuses of the University of the West Indies pay tuition fees from 2014, she said there had been “a certain cushion in terms of education” for some time and once a shift was made in the way education was funded “it is going to change the dynamics of the society”.
“So it is best we do as much as we can right now when we can to ensure that more students go to university and that those that are already there can stay there. So it is definitely a good road for those who do not have adequate financing to pursue or continue their studies.
“The good thing is that Cave Hill and our universities are not expensive and particularly for Barbadian students it is not going to be the same amount [as I am seeking]. It is quite possible that my nine-month programme will cost the same perhaps as that of a four-year degree. It all depends,” she said, adding that it would also be useful to seek other forms of funding, including loans.
Samuel said while she understood it
was difficult for Government to continue to fund education given the state of the economy, the change could have been a smoother one.
“To wake up one day and get this news of an instant shift it could be quite tough. I know a lot of people who were planning and ready to go university but say they cannot do this at all. So I think it would have been great if there was a smooth transition,” she said.
“The time has gone, but I believe if we had more knowledge earlier that we would have to make these financial decisions . . . the people could have had more preparation,” she added.
She said it might be some time before crowdfunding was accepted as a means of financial education, adding that those she spoke with agreed it was an avenue some could pursue, but they were “a little bit hesitant” because “the society does not promote public asking unless in the case of a [catastrophe]”.
However, Samuel said she was prompted to pursue that course because she did not have the money and was unable to access a loan.
“I want to definitely attend law school. I don’t want to be held back by it, and I did not necessarily see my financial situation changing so much within even a few years of working . . . so I just decided I will just do it,” Samuel said.