Letter of the Day: Doggone mad! $16m for vet school!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I find it very unsettling on hearing the recent news that the Jamaican Government seems to have decided unilaterally to dispense with paying the subsidy for new Jamaican students who want to study veterinary medicine at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies.
As I understand it, it was a sudden decision that was taken without any form of consultation with the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association or veterinary students before it was implemented. One can only imagine the hardships, stress and disappointment that greeted these students who have just been informed of such a decision.
According to the letter that was sent to the principal of the St Augustine campus, Professor Clement Sankant, Jamaica's Ministry of Education will cease to pay the 85 per cent subsidy of the economic cost of the programme, which could see students paying an estimated J$16 million for tuition over five years. The reason that is cited for this decision is the continued weakening of the Jamaican dollar against the US dollar, which would make the programme's cost more burdensome economically.
While I understand the Government's position, I think that it is rather insensitive, if not callous, to implement such a decision in the very year that it has been agreed on. It seems that this would mean that new Jamaican students would be required to pay a whopping 100 per cent of this academic year's economic cost for their programme, whereas they would have paid only 15 per cent for last year.
This situation is most clearly untenable. It is clear to me that the Jamaican Government should have consulted with all relevant stakeholders once it has agreed on such a decision, above all, the students who would have to face this new reality. I believe that the Government should have waited at least a year before implementing its new policy so that the affected students can adjust to it and make adequate provision and strategies for dealing with all the costs involved with studying in Trinidad.
VETERINARIANS ARE IMPORTANT
Veterinarians are indispensable for providing medical care for animals, including for the agriculture industry. If these animals are sick, or even contract diseases, this could have enormous consequences for the population, as individuals may be consuming unhealthy food.
This is where veterinarians are so important, as, by safeguarding the health of animals, they are also safeguarding the health of human beings and the sustainability of the local economy.
Hence it is vital that the Government should ensure that Jamaica can retain future generations of veterinarians, even as it maintains fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, the Government could be sacrificing much-needed talent that would be crucial to Jamaican's agriculture and economy for short-term financial gain.
Nhulunbuy, Gove, Australia