BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Barbadian undergraduate students at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) will not have to dig into their pockets to pay their tuition fees after all.
The development brings to fruition a promise made by the Mia Mottley-led government to reverse the policy implemented by the previous Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration which in 2014 stopped paying tuition fees for Barbadian students at the tertiary institution.
The university announced Monday that it had finally received official word from the Ministry of Education confirming that Government would indeed cover the costs, following concerns by some students that they were being told by UWI they would have to meet the tuition costs themselves in the absence of official word from Government.
“The university has been given the necessary assurances and has received the requisite correspondence about the new policy becoming effective from the coming semester,” Director of Communications Chelston Lovell told online newspaper Barbados Today.
Last week, Barbados Today reported that students showing up to enrol at the university for the upcoming semester, which begins on August 20, were being told they had to pay tuition fees themselves by August 26, 2018, despite Government’s promise a month earlier to foot their tuition bill.
Following the publication of the report, a meeting was held last Friday between the university’s senior management and officials from the Ministry of Education, after which, Lovell said, the ministry gave written authorization for UWI to proceed with the policy at the start of the new academic year.
However, Lovell explained that the situation surrounding postgraduate students was a lot murkier, as the university was still awaiting confirmation of how Government intended to address their tuition.
“Bear in mind that Government only spoke specifically to undergraduate students, but they also promised some level of support to postgraduate students who were pursuing areas of study . . . considered critical, or if you got a first class or upper second degree at the undergraduate level,” he said.
“So there is some uncertainty there because it hasn’t all been spelt out as yet,” Lovell added, while expressing confidence that the ambiguity would soon be cleared.
In her mini Budget presented on June 11, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mottley, said effective September undergraduate students attending UWI would no longer pay tuition fees, fulfilling one of the signature campaign promises of her Barbados Labour Party.
“We will abolish undergraduate tuition fees for those attending the University of the West Indies with effect from the next semester. In return we will require each student to contribute to the development of social capital by giving back a minimum of 100 hours in approved service to the country,” she said at the time, while promising to introduce “safeguards against the explosion of enrolment”.
She revealed that the decision would cost Barbadian taxpayers an additional BDS$22 million (US$11 million) annually.