The Patrick Hylton-led committee, looking into identifying a pool of money to fund the Student Loan Bureau (SLB), is expected to make a report in April.
Recognising the severe financial challenges facing the bureau, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, had asked Mr. Hylton, who is Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank (NCB), to examine private funding for the student-loan system.
Addressing a session on financing higher education at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Rex Nettleford Hall on February 11, Special Advisor in the Ministry, Dr. Franklin Johnston said that the recommendations are to be implemented before the start of the new academic year.
Dr. Johnston told the scores of student, who attended the meeting, that education can no longer be viewed as welfare but as an investment.
He noted that private for-profit institutions of higher education are gaining strength in Jamaica and that approximately 40 per cent of degrees are granted by them. He pointed out that students provide their own funding to attend these institutions.
The Special Advisor was emphatic however, that the government has no policy to privatise higher education.
He further urged students to look at the requirements of the labour market and let that guide their choice of study.
Assistant General Manager of Jamaica National (JN), Brando Hayden, who is also a member of the abovementioned committee, said that while the problem of student loan funding is universal, Jamaica needs to find its own solutions. He pointed out that parents should plan for their children’s education as soon as they are born.
Mr. Hayden’s company was promoting its JN Educare Loan at the event, which is offering students up to $500,000 at 17.5 per cent per annum to fund their tertiary education, with six to 24 months for repayment.
In the meantime, Public Relations Manager of the SLB, Analisa Downes-Allen, said the bureau currently funds 30 per cent of tertiary level education.