JIS News

A series of consultations on funding tertiary education are to be hosted by the National Youth Council (NYC), to support a proposal which the Council is preparing to present to Parliament later this year.

This will be done to put forward recommendations on reforming the Students Loan Bureau (SLB) and introducing more sustainable methods of funding tertiary education.

President of the NYC, Ryan Small, said that in order to successfully complete the proposal, the group will solicit recommendations and views from youth across Jamaica through a series of consultation sessions.

The first consultation will be held on Friday, July 12 at Ardenne High School, Kingston, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites and Chairman of the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission, Maxine Henry Wilson, are expected to be among the specially invited guests.

“Our discussion will focus on ensuring that we have a student loan system that is sustainable and equitable and we hope that after the discussion and consultations have concluded, Parliament will take our recommendations into consideration when they are making their final deliberations,” he said.

He pointed out that the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) is supporting the project by providing technical assistance to the group.

“The NCYD has been aiding in the research for the proposal. They will also be helping to ensure that it is completed in a timely manner and properly recorded, so that we can make the presentation,” he said in an interview with JIS News.

Mr. Small, who is also Co-Chairman of the body set up to deal with the proposal, explained that the group was formed due to mounting discussions and concerns raised in relation to the SLB and funding tertiary education.

“I decided to establish a team that would make recommendations to the Minister of Education and by extension Parliament, in regards to what young people believe are the policy changes that need to be made to the funding module used by the SLB and the government to fund tertiary education,” he said.

The President noted that the group consists of student leaders from across the Island.

“We selected young people from varying youth groups, representatives from the Prefect and Students Council body at the secondary level as well as representatives from the Sixth Form Association and the Guild of Students at the University of West Indies,” he noted.

So far, the group has conducted research on funding modules used by the United Kingdom, Australia and several other CARICOM and Commonwealth countries.

“We have looked at the graduate tax system in some European countries and we realize that most student loans provided in the United Kingdom are income contingent, while loans here are not. We also realize that unlike Trinidad and Tobago, where students are not allowed to remain on student loans having failed a course, here in Jamaica there are students who are still on student loans even after failing a course twice,” Mr. Small said.

Contact: Sanasha Pearson

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