Rhianna Mc Kenzie
In a statement, the UWI has confirmed it will not be raising tuition fees for the upcoming semester, in keeping with the government’s recommendation.
On Friday, the university’s marketing and communications office issued the statement in response to the government’s decision to cut funding to the university by ten per cent.
During a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the government met with the St Augustine Guild on the issue of raising fees, which would have seen students paying between 25 and 71 per cent, depending on their course of study.
Imbert said while government could not tell the campus how to run its affairs, it was suggested that some of its 300 courses be cut. He said the campus will now have approximately $450 million in subvention as well GATE funding from the State.
UWI’s statement said, “The campus executive management team recognises and empathises with concerns expressed, especially as it relates to students and prospective students.
“It was for this reason that the decisions to propose fee increases was made with careful consideration of the impact to all involved.”
UWI said, while it was reported that campus costs had increased because it had grown beyond what its resources could bear, higher enrolment was a major cause for increased costs.
“More than a decade ago, government imperative to increase the tertiary participation rate (defined as the number of tertiary level graduates in each age cohort, as a percentage of the total number of persons in that cohort in the population) was based on the principle that tertiary level education is a key factor in moving from developing-nation status to first-world status.
The sector responded, fuelled primarily by the current GATE programme and its predecessors.”
It said over the last six years, the institution had reduced its actual operating expenditure for grant programmes by $115 million and staff costs had essentially remained unchanged, despite increased cost owing to settlement of union agreements.
“In fact, the Campus has successfully operated below budget for the past five years and has been commended year on year by technocrats at the Ministries of Education and Finance for its good fiscal management.. For the past four years, the campus has been managing with a correspondingly reduced subvention of $517.1 million. (The university) will be in deficit for the first time in a few years in 2022 due to the ten per cent cut in funding.”
It said the provision of quality internationally accredited higher educational services to the region is costly and reiterated Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly’s sentiment that fees had not increased in 21 years.
“It was last changed before many of its students were born,” UWI said. “UWI St Augustine fees are currently the lowest in the UWI system and among tertiary education institutions in the Caribbean.
“The proposal that went before the government and the UWI seeks to align its tuition fees with those at other campuses.”
The statement said the documentation requested by the government, in preparation for a discussion for an increase as of academic year 2023/2024, is in progress and added the campus has been working to improve its operational efficiencies in the past few years.