Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness, in a statement Tuesday (April 13) said that he understands and empathises with the plight of tertiary-level students, who are concerned about reduced Government subsidies.
Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness
Mr. Holness said that while the Government acknowledges that the reduction in subsidy to the UWI will cause hardship to both the students and the administration, the Government is also committed to providing assistance to students who are at risk of deregistration.
He stated, however, that the current means of funding tertiary education is not sustainable, and the crisis provided an opportunity to rethink tertiary funding and the role of the Students’ Loan Bureau.
The full text of the statement issued by the Ministry read:
“The Government of Jamaica’s Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund, which is a projection based on currently available data, recommended a nominal freeze of tertiary subsidies. This means that the Government would attempt to provide the same level of funding as in the 2008/09 budget without taking into account inflation.
“The Minister of Education later went on to explain at the UWI Research Day in January, as well as in other fora, that this position was contingent on the Government being able to meet its revenue targets. Unfortunately, revenues have been less than projected and the Government has had to adjust some targets. In addition, the Ministry of Education had already given an indication that there would be a rebalancing of Government’s expenditures in favour of the foundation and secondary levels of education.
“We were clear to say that the tertiary institutions would increase their fees based on our guidance in line with inflation. The universities have the authority to set their fees with reference to the Government. From our discussions with the institution it appears that they will comply as closely as possible with the guidance given.
“The Government acknowledges that the reduction in subsidy to the UWI will cause hardship to both students and the institution’s administration. In this regard, the Government has also committed to providing assistance to students who are at risk of deregistration.
“Finally, the current means of funding tertiary education is not sustainable and this current crisis provides the opportunity to rethink tertiary funding and the role of the Students’ Loan Bureau.
“We remain committed to expanding access to tertiary education, and that will be the main thrust of all reform efforts going forward.”