UWI principal warns of ‘looming crisis’ in higher education

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau is warning of “a looming crisis”, which she says will affect the ability of the average Barbadian to afford a tertiary education.

Speaking during a ceremony to announce a US$2,500 scholarship for first year student Akilah Jordan-Watson who won the 2016 Optimist International Essay Competition, Barriteau further cautioned that with the economic situation as it is, students are finding it increasing difficult to pay for higher learning.

“As you know the challenge of funding higher education is being quite acute, and in essence a crisis may be looming,” the UWI principal said.

And while suggesting that Barbadians as a whole had taken higher education for granted, she warned that the cost was spiralling out of the reach of the average student following Government’s decision, back in 2014, to stop paying the tuition fees for Barbadians attending the UWI.

“I am really worried that if the trend continues, only an elite will be able to afford higher education,” the principal said.

Using herself as an example, Barriteau said she would not have been able to attend university had she not been afforded an education by the state.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have done a degree if at the time we had to pay, because my mother would not have been able to afford it,” she said, adding that tertiary education had her what she is today.

“When I think about all the opportunities that I have had personally I know that it is my first degree at the Cave Hill campus that enabled me to do that,” the Grenada-born principal said.

However, with the Barbados economy “tight” at the moment, she said it was really now left to parents to make the sacrifices on behalf of their children.

“Of course the Cave Hill campus is doing its own bit to help students in need of financial assistance, but we can only do so much given our financial circumstances,” Barriteau said, while making a passing reference to the $200 million which is said to be owed to the university by Government in terms of outstanding contributions.

“I don’t dwell on our debt, but it is significant,” she added.

While revealing that she had already written to Government seeking to get it to increase its $2,500 student grant by one thousand dollars, the UWI principal pleaded with non-governmental organizations and the private
sector as a whole to assist in subsidizing tuition fees for students.

“I want to appeal to all our leaders, parliamentary, private sector, NGOs, to continue to invest in the young people of Barbados and the region to ensure that they have the opportunities, so they can take themselves further in the process.

“We need help so that we can offer our students more grants, scholarships and other activities to facilitate their development,” she said.

The UWI principal also revealed plans to assist Dominican students who have been directly impacted by Hurricane Maria.

“As far as we are concerned right now they belong to us. They are here. Not only have we made arrangements to provide them with support with their tuition, but while they are here we will take care of them.

“We are already thinking of what we can do for them because they won’t be able to go home for Christmas. This is what we do in reaching out to our students,” she added.

10 Responses to UWI principal warns of ‘looming crisis’ in higher education

  1. Tony Webster October 11, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Lady…LOOMING crisis? Dem ent logs, or dogs, strolling about the campus…dem is hungry “creditor-crocodiles”. With your friends at M.O.F. owing you $200 Big Ones, I can’t imagine how your treasurer manages to juggle cash-flow and make sense of the UWI budget. Amazes me…and must be a huge daily stress.

    I wonder if a bit of blue-sky thinking might assist: since our banks now give us virtually nothing on deposits; since we gotta put it somewhere; how about issuing debentures at anything above the going commercial rate, which would have a “kicker” benefit above and beyond interest…like when the investors kids reach tertiary level…and would be acceptable /redeemable for tuition etc costs, plus a nice 10% DISCOUNT on such??? These could also give a little action to our moribund (or dead) B.S.E., as anyone whose teen-age genius is headed to campus, but their parents do NOT have such investments, could buy some off a relative who DOES have a stash sitting around..or list these on B.S.E. so that they could be traded. As Bajans lack any vestige of interest in holding local stocks and shares, the action is in JA and Trinidad, so list them and launch them there too.
    No …no charge at all to a fellow Grenadian, Lady. Just buy me some lambi soup when I next visit the Spice Isle.

  2. Greengiant October 11, 2017 at 6:40 am

    @Tony Webster: The Registrar and his team are able to manage the finances of the U W I because they are using the educational skills earned in the classrooms plus the experience earned due to those said qualifications. It’s called a sensible approach, and not ‘common sense’ that persons like yourself talk about constantly.

    The facts are, the state owes several entities, and many of these entities owe the state. I’m sure if we track the dept owed the state, we’ll find that even prior to the global economic meltdown several businesses was failing in their obligations to the state. They were allowed to because the state felt they were employers, and to call time on their businesses would place workers on the breadline. That’s likened to what you call ‘ the common sense approach’.

    Our ‘common sense’ also tells us that these two political failures
    D L P and B L P are experienced in running the country and to engage new comers will expose us to a risk internationally. While our educationally guided assessment dictates that the newcomers are similarly educated, qualified, and experienced as those who now occupy our parliament. They should be considered seriously, I constantly appeal to Barbadians through this medium to act against the traditional parties, giving an equal chance to the new candidates and parties. The court is always open to hearing any new evidence in old matters before it. The rules of law dictates that new evidence can have an unknown influence on the results of any adjudication.

    Currently the electorate is in the adjudication process of ruling who will be elected. The new candidates and parties are likened to new evidence, or different approaches. Unless we treat them as the courts treat new evidence, there will be no transparency, there will indeed be a bias towards the B L P and D L P. That’s why we the voters need to forget about the past contribution of generations of parliamentarians from both parties, and judge this current group from both sides on what they’ve produced while in power.

    Give careful ear to the new players, as is written in poetry, ” listen to others, even the dull and ignorant. They too have their story”.

    • andy g October 11, 2017 at 8:20 am

      well said.

  3. Kathy October 11, 2017 at 8:29 am

    ‘Looming crisis’ is a bit to strong for me. Nothing remains the same forever so it was just a matter of time that students would have to be responsible for their tuition. Additionally, all though we like to have the best education for our children and have them aspire to be all they can be, everything comes at a price. Our society is small and to be perfectly honest these days no employer really want to pay your worth. So we will end up with over qualified workers who become very dissatisfied in the long run. I know of several people with degrees who are not working in their chosen fields. They just take whatever job comes along. Life have a way of balancing out these things whether we like the hard choices or not.

  4. Sue Donym October 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Prof Barriteau is giving official voice to what others have warned for a while. What makes it worse is that those with the money have choices and if their costs are comparable to well accredited or better regarded institutions, they are less likely to choose UWI. Parents will give the studends of having the wider experience and the quality degree. This means that UWI will also be losing out on attracting even local, wealthy applicants.

    Ms Barriteau’s remarks make me think that it must be approaching crisis levels as traditionally universities are known to lean towards conservatism in their interactions with governments, so that this appeal is meant to be more than a gentle nudge to reconsider the policy.

    • Sue Donym October 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

      *Parents will give the students the opportunity…*

  5. milli watt October 11, 2017 at 10:44 am

    took for granted what you had now we got to PAY THE PRICE. had to happen and I suspect they are some up there who are still playing de tail. principal you should tell us why you don’t dwell on de debt maybe it is because of the wastage that takes place at the campus and your affiliation to this government.

  6. Helicopter(8P) October 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Those young persons performing national service should be the primary benifactors of getting an advancement in disiplines at the UWI.

  7. jennifer October 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    To kill a mocking bird.

  8. Belfast October 11, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Back to the days of the N-Yard, when the children in the great house, in shoes and socks were chauffeur driven to school in town, while the N-Yard children, barefooted, some as young as 3-years had to pick pond grass in the plantation cane fields.
    Was it not our illustrious Prime Minister who suggested after a row at/with Cave Hill, that they at Cave Hill could as well go back to the cane fields.


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