QC head worried about impact of tuition cuts

In light of Government’s announced proposal to discontinue paying tuition fees from September, the principal of one secondary school is appealing to financial institutions to offer loans to students who want to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI).

David Browne, principal of Queens College, told the media today that so far, he had approached two lending institutions encouraging them to put loan facilities in place for students who would be leaving secondary school and in need of financial assistance for paying their school fees.

Browne, who also plans to target other commercial banks, said he was making the precautionary move because he believed the Government’s students revolving loan scheme would come under significant pressure with some students forced to seek financing elsewhere.

“We are not going to sit down here and keep griping about it and hope that Government would either postpone it or forget it. We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. So in September these students would be able to go to these banking institutions and negotiate a loan,” he said during the official launch of the school’s QC Day/Nite A’Fair 2014 Edition – Illuminate!, scheduled to take place on March 29.

He added: “We have a strategic focus here at this school where more than 98 per cent of our students who are leaving sixth form should enter a higher institution of learning. I push that with the students. If they have to pay fees, I am afraid there might be a drop off. I am still focusing on my strategic focus so that they would have no excuse for not going on to higher institutions of learning.”

Browne said Government’s decision indicated that Barbados was entering a new phase in funding education, while advising that parents should begin putting funds aside to assist in paying their charges’ way through higher education.

“We are going to have to put aside money for funding our children’s education. It says to all of us that we have to put more now into education because it seems as though the days of Government funding, including education and health, are changing,” he said.

During the launch, president of the Queens College Association (QCA) Cecilia Stallard, said the association’s executive committee had approved the establishment of a QCA UWI Scholarship to assist Queens College students who aspires to further their studies at UWI.

The initiative, which is still in its planning stages, would allow 10 students per year the opportunity to attend UWI without having to carry the full economic load.

A share of the funds raised at the QC Day/Nite A’Fair will go towards the school’s benevolent fund which needy students depend on for breakfast, lunch and school supplies.

Lisa Niles, president of the school’s parent-teachers Association said that the PTA  found it most appropriate to focus fund-raising efforts on the benevolent fund because of the reality that hundreds of students at that school and others across the island came to school daily without breakfast.

Browne pointed out that the school had students from a cross section of backgrounds and in light Government’s ongoing retrenchment programme, QC has established a policy that “retrenchment or no retrenchment” all students must attended school, even if they had             to be assisted.

“In this increasing economic hardship, we must not only ensure that all children at Queen’s College come to school but all children in this island must not suffer because of any retrenchment. If we want to hold this society together, this is an important vulnerable group that we must pay attention to,” the principal streesed.

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