Fri | Aug 18, 2017

UWI says students knew from June 2016 the deadline to pay fees

Published:Tuesday | April 25, 2017 | 4:02 AMJovan Johnson

The Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) says there is no "merit" to students' claim that they were not given notice that failure to pay fees would end with them not being able to sit exams.

According to the university, the first notice was issued in June 2016, more than two months before the start of the school year in September.

Last week, the Government said it would be helping dozens of students, including some on their final semester, who are at risk of not sitting final exams because they owe fees. That assistance is separate from a $100-million allocation for needy students that will come on stream in September when the 2017-2018 school year starts.

The Guild of Students has said that, "While we understand UWI's stance, the inability of students to access education due to financial constraints trumps all other reasons." The UWI, Mona, Debating and Public Speaking President Akeela Marin has also criticised the university.

Responding, the Mona campus said in a guest column published today that a notice to all finalising students concerning the deadlines was first sent in June and "subsequent reminders were sent in September 2016, November 2016, January 2017, February 2017 and March 2017 (final notice)".

"The claim by students that they were not advised of the regulations, or of the various deadlines for payment of fees, is, therefore, without merit".

All fees, UWI said, are due and payable at the start of the academic year. However, students may pay per semester, and if they can't pay in full, they are encouraged to enter into an official payment plan.

'No other tertiary institution affords students this latitude'

The University of the West Indies (UWI) has said that students in their final year will have to pay all outstanding balances by April 14. The UWI said that this is a policy that was developed in collaboration with Guild President Mikaela Gonzales.

"Students may owe fees for the current semester, and be allowed to register, so long as they clear the fees for the previous semester. The sitting of examinations is dependent on an active registration," read a statement from the institution. "The UWI, Mona, is not aware of any other tertiary institution that affords their students this latitude," the statement continued.

Meanwhile, the university said the method of withholding transcripts or certificates as one means of ensuring payment of outstanding fees "has been tried over the years, and has failed.

"The university now has in storage hundreds of uncollected certificates belonging to students who took advantage of this approach, and have departed, leaving the university with huge student receivables."