Mixed reaction to UWI fees hike

Expect a further drop in student enrolment come September!

That was the reaction today of several students who are currently pursuing degree programmes at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), following a decision taken by the UWI Council at its annual business meeting held at the campus last Thursday to increase the amount paid by students in tuition fees.

At the same time, Shadow Minister of Education Edmund Hinkson sought to pin blame squarely on the shoulders of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), saying had it kept its promise to repay its $200 million debt to the university, there would be no need for any such hike at this stage.

“The situation would not have been so dire,” Hinkson told Barbados TODAY Wednesday afternoon, explaining that “one of the problems of course is that Barbados Government owes the university close to $200 million and that figure has been so since I got into Parliament four years ago.

“The Minister of Education said in Parliament in the Estimates speech of 2013 that Barbados was going to pay $40 million every quarter to the university to reduce that debt. However that certainly has not been the case even though Mr [Ronald] Jones made that commitment on the floor of Parliament,” he said.

“So if a government of the Caribbean owes you $200 million consistently, it puts you under pressure. So that is one of the reasons why the university has now sent up tuition fees.”

In a release issued today, the university revealed effective September tuition fees in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education, and Science and Technology will move from $5,625 to $600, an increase of 6.67 per cent; tuition fees in the Faculty of Law will move from $8,808 to $9000, an increase of 2.18 per cent; while fees within the Faculty of Medical Sciences remain unchanged.

Concerned about the move, today several students told Barbados TODAY that they already finding it hard to cope with their tuition costs.

Therefore, they said any addition would be tantamount to the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some students argued that while the cost may appear to be negligible to an individual student, the increase could not be viewed in isolation, given that Barbadian students have been required since 2013 to meet their own tuition payments.

Brandon Blackman

“As it is now it now it is already hard for students to pay the tuition fees because you move from only having to pay amenities to now having to pay tuition. So for me I have to now find new ways to meet my financial obligations in order to push myself through school,” said Brandon Blackman from the Faculty of Law.

He also pointed out that “with the economy as it is now, it is hard to even get a part time job or some other means finding the resources”.

The outspoken Barbadian student also said based on the feedback he was getting from his UWI colleagues they too were finding the going quite tough.

“It is really tough already to pay the fees, so as a result of this increase we may see some students dropping out, which may be the most unfortunate route that we may have to take, but it may be a necessity for some people seeing that they are already struggling to meet the bar,” he added.

The increase in tuition costs has also not gone down well with some non-nationals studying at Cave Hill.

Tobagonian student Celantra Allen expressed concern that the cumulative cost for struggling economies such as Trinidad & Tobago, which still meets the tuition fees of its students, would quite substantial.

Celantra Allen

“In a time such as this where many governments are already struggling to provide students, like for us Trinbagonians, GATE [Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses] is being cut back on. So this increase will result in even more of a reduction in enrolment within this institution from Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

However, other students appeared to take the increase in stride, describing it as only marginal when compared to tuition costs at universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“The reality is that we are getting a bachelor’s degree at a fraction of the cost that others pay at any other university. The increase is just a fraction more than what we are already paying. Sure there are some people who would not be able to afford it, but you still getting value for money,” argued one Barbadian male student, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Since the Government ended its policy of free tertiary education back in 2013, students have been required to meet their tuition costs while the Government continues to meet the economic costs for Barbadians.

This has led to a significant fall off in enrolment, which dropped from over 8,700 in 2013 to 5,507 this year.

However, speaking during this year’s Estimates debate, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler expressed optimism that the situation was beginning to “stabilize”.

In fact, Sinckler had said at the time Government was on course to realize its prediction that the number of students entering the institution would start to return to previous figures within a four-year period.

Speaking in Parliament back in March, as the Estimates debate shifted to the education sector, Sinckler also admitted that the decision to ask students to pay was a “painful” one.

However, he said it was better than limiting the number of students for whom Government would foot the entire bill, adding that his administration took the decision after “wrestling with all the ideas” of how to address the high costs it was faced with.

“Yes, some people have fallen through and we have to find a way to get more of them back in. I believe the numbers are beginning to stabilize and you are beginning to see them now come back up a little bit. We expected that it would take about four [or] five years for that to settle down and I think we are on a trajectory where we can improve that,” Sinckler said then. colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

26 Responses to Mixed reaction to UWI fees hike

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 4, 2017 at 1:12 am

    For UWI to get numbers, which equates to the paying of fees, it needs high student enrollment. How is increasing fees going to help? The government of Barbados who finds it easy to give away so much free money and have it unaccounted, according to Auditor General reports, should find the same ease in clearing their 200 million debt to UWI. I cannot help think that the DLP is on a mission to cribble the island but prop certain entities for two way benefit.

  2. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn May 4, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I can’t see how this Government can win back the government. Unless the people ignorant. Why would they want to carry up the fees before election. I find that they brave. MR inniss want to know if the BLP can give the students free University EDUCATION again. The answer is yes.I will ask him one question. Did you you pay .and from how long since the students started to pay. 2013. I think that Mr Inniss think that most bajan ignorant. He should lose his seat for saying that.

  3. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn May 4, 2017 at 1:57 am

    If these men were in opposition. They will be talking a bunch of foolishness. This government trick the people. Some people could hardly pay to send their children now to university now. Because of bad government. That money that you all written off for the turf club should gone to the university. Those people who own the TURF CLUB ARE VERY RICH PEOPLE. poor people cannot own a horse.

  4. Samantha Best May 4, 2017 at 5:06 am

    The UWI at Cave Hill needs to look at cutting its cost. Every time these Gov’t funded institutions run out of money or carry up its expenditures they look to Govt to cushion them.

    I anticipate that now that they have increased the fees that the quality of service they provide will improve. One can never call or go to them and ask a question and receive a definitive answer. If one calls UWI Mona or St.Augustine the reception is totally different.

    The amenities fees are a total scam. Ask anyone doing medicine and paying these fees how they benefit from the use of the buses when they are moving around between polyclinics. The consultants telling them they must be on time which, we all agree with. But try moving from Wildey to St. Philip in half an hour without your own vehicle. Students have to call taxis after paying the amenities fees as well as increased fees and the Principal and other staff flying first class and driving expensive vehicles at students’ expense. It must be remembered that there are some ‘bright’ children who are very poor. There are some students who are barely eating! The questions being asked to access the required funding is equivalent to walking around naked. It is atrocious.

    UWI can do much better at cutting cost. Since Gov’t is funding it, the Auditor General or some other Gov’t appointed Auditor needs to go in and investigat.

    • Milli Watt May 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      @ samantha best I agree totally. We ever see audited statements from the campuses yet tax payers are asked to bank roll them every year. We know exactly what the cost IS at this time as opposed to what it SHOULD BE. The UWI is bloated and while students are not blameless this question of student cost can only be answered by the UWI coming clean with the people of the Caribbean and give account for the way the money is spent and the return on that investment…….a dream really and the leakages continue.

  5. Everick May 4, 2017 at 6:14 am

    @ Angus Benn
    No the people allowed this Govt to trick them, because too many stupid people can & did vote.
    The right to vote should be restricted to people who have sense.
    Now, let the darts fly.

  6. Anson Sobers
    Anson Sobers May 4, 2017 at 6:22 am

    This current inept administration has not only wrecked our economy but also the future economy with its decision to cut the university support and not provide affordable means for persons who really need access to education.

  7. harry turnover May 4, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Hey…..every man jack in this country got to sacrifice or pay more due to DEM…so who are the University students that they feel that it will be business as usual for them ?
    Most of them USE STUDENT LOANS FUNDS and DO NOT PAY BACK A YEN and this Government in LOCKING NONE OF THEM….now some of them crying FOUL
    In the past parents used to pay SCHOOL FEES at GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS,that was STOPPED when BARROW took over and continued up to this day…. until DEM mash up the economy from 2008 until NOW.
    Now everything going downhill FAST and certain people feel that they should not be touched.
    I say to JONES if ya gine say that CELL PHONES gine be allowed in Schools in September say that SCHOOL FEES gine come back too.
    Cell phones and top ups gine cost MORE than School fees.

  8. Alex Alleyne May 4, 2017 at 9:01 am


  9. Leroy May 4, 2017 at 9:26 am

    The first thing we the public need to know if how much it cost to educate a 3 year undergraduate degree?

    Next thing is how much does it cost to fund the UWI yearly.

    Considering the total budget of Bds, we need prioritize, for example,
    we the taxpayers paid Mark Maloneys construction company $30 mil to build low income houses, was that necessary?

    Is it necessary for the tax payers to pay $30,000 monthly to Sky Mall(Bizzy Williams) for rent for Min of Youth Affairs?

    We spent $3mil or $6 mil for private garbage haulers for a short period of time instead of buying trucks.

    We pay SBRR $ for tonnage to be sorted and recycled but are we making the tonnage and is it even necessary when you can have us the taxpayers sort our own garbage?

    We need a responsive Gov to mange our tax payers $ properly based on our priorities. Instead our Gov telling us to pull more weight when they are the ones wasting the $, we pay the taxes we hardly decide how its spent.

  10. Alex Alleyne May 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

    @Leroy, The cost to educate a 3 year undergraduate degree in BIM , USA, CANADA and ENGLAND in US$$$$$.

  11. bradg May 4, 2017 at 11:33 am

    ………Next will be Health care, be prepared to pay whenever going there for whatever reason…

    Then Bus fares for children and Senior Citizens, be prepared to pay.

    If you have plans to rely on NIS in your retirement, I have bad news for you there too.

    I hope everybody see the trend that’s taking place. “Fraudel ” give us hints already…….by saying be prepared to carry yuh own weight! Don’t depend on Govt for nutting!! Can’t even depend on getting your income tax refunds!!

  12. Carson C. Cadogan May 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    That is a small increase. You all can pay it.

    The students from the other Caribbean countries have to pay 100% of their course costs.

  13. Carson C. Cadogan May 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    What Hinkson said is not unexpected. If the rain does not fall tomorrow the crooked Barbados Labour Party would blame the Govt..

  14. Whynowuwi? May 4, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I am one of the unfortunate students struggling as it is. With a child getting ready to go to secondary school and one going into nursery that cannot get into a government owened daycare this may very well be the end of my studies. I already owe and this will just end it now.

  15. Milli Watt May 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    let me guess carson……..you are a DLP supporter.

    • Carson C. Cadogan May 4, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Of course!!!!

  16. bradg May 4, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Just goes to show….DLP could run the country into the ground and it will still have supporters, ughhh!!

  17. Carson C. Cadogan May 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    “”….….DLP could run the country into the ground “”

    That is BLP talk.

    The DLP was good for Barbados, is good for Barbados and will be good for Barbados in the future.

    I am not like you and the news media getting all my information from the crooked Barbados Labour Party.

    We deal with FACTS!!!!!

  18. Carson C. Cadogan May 4, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    The strange thing about some Bajans, they say Education is important.

    But it would seem that Education is important only when some one else is paying.

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