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JIS News

There is a high demand for loans from the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB), by students who want to pursue higher education.
This was noted by Pro Chancellor of the University of Technology (UTech), the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, at the institution’s 50th anniversary gala banquet, held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, on December 6.
In light of the challenge that this could pose for the SLB, Mr. Seaga has been asked to chair a Special Committee, to help find solutions to the financial challenge.
This decision follows discussions which the leadership of both the University of the West Indies (UWI), and UTech, had with Mr. Seaga, following concerns both institutions raised in meetings regarding the SLB’s ability to fulfil the demand for loans by the increasing number of students seeking to access tertiary education.
Mr. Seaga, who is also a Distinguished Fellow at the UWI, noted that the intake of students applying to the SLB for assistance with tuition last year was 7,000, adding that the figure increased by 100 per cent this year.
The Pro Chancellor said he was sure the SLB would receive some funding, “but I doubt very much that they will receive what is needed, unless some special efforts are made.”
“If they continue with that increment of growth and.cost, it is expected that, over the next five years, it will require some $15 billion to be able to finance the requirements for scholarships, and for funding from the SLB for students, who want to and are qualified to enter university,” Mr. Seaga said.
Noting the attendant challenges this poses, Mr. Seaga said the SLB, which he was instrumental in establishing in 1969, has managed to raise only $33 million from financial institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank, in its 39 years.
In light of this, Mr. Seaga said the Committee would look at how best and effectively the anomaly could be bridged, adding that “I expect that we will begin work on this particular task in January of next year.”
The banquet saw several awards being presented to current and past students and staff, who have distinguished themselves in various endeavours. Recipients included seven members of Jamaica’s record medal winning team to the Beijing Olympics in China in August, who are also part of the UTech-based Maximising Velocity and Power (MVP) Track Club; their coach, Stephen Francis; and former Presidents, Dr. Alfred Sangster and Dr. Rae Davis.