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Portia calls for PM intervention in student loan impasse

Published:Monday | December 19, 2011 | 12:52 PM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

The impasse between the University of Technology (UTECH) and the Student’s Loan Bureau (SLB) has attracted the attention of People’s National Party (PNP) president Portia Simpson Miller, who has called for the intervention of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

She was speaking in Mandeville, Manchester on Sunday night.

“We are not begging you, we are telling you to do it,” the PNP president said. “I want to know whether the Government is comfortable that over 1,000 students at Utech may have a problem as a result of issues relating to the Students Loan Bureau.”

The Monica Brown-led SLB has countered claims it was threatening to not honour a commitment to pay over more than $300 million to the University of Technology (UTECH) if more than 1,200 of its students failed to complete their applications by last Friday.

The Gleaner had reported Sunday that the university was yet to receive any of the $548 million in tuition fees committed by the SLB for the current academic year.

While addressing PNP supporters, Simpson Miller, said it is important that Holness, who is the minister of education, indicate to the country what is happening.

“UTECH would have spent a lot of money preparing for these students. What if a number of these students will have to drop out of university? It would mean some serious challenges for UTECH,” Simpson Miller said.

She said an intervention from Holness is necessary “so that the country can be informed, so that the students and their parents and their guarantors can be comfortable with the position of these students.”