Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Drastic fall in students who owe money at UWI - Reid

Published:Thursday | April 27, 2017 | 4:05 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Ruel Reid

Three hundred and sixty-four students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) are currently in arrears, down from 1,600. That was the disclosure made Tuesday by education minister Ruel Reid, who sought to update the nation on the debacle which saw scores of students at the institution being unable to sit their exams, due to outstanding balances.

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 $300 million allocation for needy students that will come on stream in September when the 2017-2018 school year starts.

"With regards to the University of the West Indies, prior to our intervention there was as high of about 1,600 students, finalising with students' loan and with outstanding balances. Subsequent to the deadline and our pronouncements, that figure has been reduced to about 364 students who have outstanding balances and the figure has now moved down to $51 million. That is not a massive figure that we can't resolve," he told The Gleaner following his presentation at the Make Your Mark Consultants, Middle Managers' Conference which was held at the Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

 

FAST TRACK LOAN

 

"The committee met yesterday to ensure that it's only the students who really can't get any further help that we are going to provide certain assistance to. Bear in mind that we will use the Jamvat (Jamaica Values and Attitudes) methodology for students who are deemed needy and whose balance is below $100,000. Those who are above $100,000, we will work for them to have a fast track loan from Students' Loan Bureau (SLB)," Reid said.

He asserted, however, that the government, including the Prime Minister, made it very clear that it will not be a 'free for all' system.

"I can see the issue with the university because while the people are saying let's have everybody, once you are registered, sit the final exam and then whenever you are able to pay the balance, you can come and collect your degree or other records but at the same time it doesn't help the cash flow of the university," the minister noted.

"It is a caring government that has responded but we are not going to allow them to abuse the system.

The prime minister has been very clear that we are not going to give away tax payers money because we need to build discipline and responsibility in our people but at the same time the government must do what it can to facilitate and enable our people."

jodiann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com