Free Education Is Not Under Threat

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Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones, making a point about the importance of teritiary education while Permanant Secretary in the Ministry, Guilford Alleyne, listen attentively.??

Free Tertiary Education is not under threat!

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, gave this assurance last Friday, during a press conference called to clarify misconstrued statements in the press, emanating from pronouncements made by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, during his budget speech in October. It was held at the Ministry’s Elsie Payne Complex.

The Minister said: "I want to make it clear, as Government’s chief spokesperson on education, that free education in Barbados has not been placed under threat and therefore, there is no need for persons who are looking to enter the University of the West Indies (UWI), to exercise any caution relative to their application. ??

"What the Minister [of Finance] was seeking to point out, [is] that there are some inefficiencies in the system…And when there are inefficiencies, there is a cost.?? So, we have to eliminate them so as to achieve the maximum benefits of the funds provided to education within the UWI," Mr. Jones surmised.

He further stated that Barbados, unlike other Caribbean countries, had taken a decision not only to provide the economic cost but to pay tuition fees for all students.

The Minister acknowledged that over the last six years, there had been an exponential increase in the number of students pursuing tertiary education.

This, Mr. Jones said, was due largely in part, to the expansion of the physical plant; a heavy demand by Barbadian students to access tertiary level education at the UWI; a desire by the system to satisfy the ???push for numbers’; the introduction of new programmes at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and the introduction of a Medical Faculty at the Cave Hill Campus.??

He maintained: "The policy espoused by the Minister of Finance is already a policy of the Government of Barbados, it is nothing new. It was just a re-emphasis of what had been instituted years ago.?? It [policy] was further refined in 2008 when I came in and we said that full-time students would have three years to finish their undergraduate degree and there will be an additional year based on any variables that would impact their studies.?? Part-time students would have six years, because they have half a workload as opposed to a full-time student."

In giving an insight into the UWI Campus’ fees structure, Mr. Jones revealed that tuition for full-time students in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science for example, was $5,500, while the economic costs totaled $27,500 per year.?? Part time students on the other hand, would pay $2,750 in tuition fees and $13,750 in economic costs.

He further explained that the tuition fees for law students now stood at $8,800 with economic costs topping over $40,000.?? Regarding tuition fees for medical students, the Minister added that over the last three years, Government had provided support for 86 students enrolled in the five year programme whose tuition fees were in the region of more than $100,000 per year.

??"The state, through taxpayers, would have provided $1/2 million and I am giving you these figures so that the country gets an understanding of the cost of tertiary education….," the Minister disclosed.????jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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