JIS News

Government will be instituting gradual changes at the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB), to enable students easier access to loans.
This was stated by Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, while addressing tertiary level students at a rap session, held at Marley Beach, in St. Mary, on August 15.
Mr. Holness pointed out that government is currently paying 80 per cent of the economic cost for students who matriculate to the University of the West Indies, amounting to some $7 billion. Additionally, the government is paying approximately 80 per cent of the economic cost for those qualifying for teachers’ colleges, and 40 per cent for the University of Technology.
However, with the increasing number of persons entering these institutions, the Minister said the government could not continue to fund these costs. “We are not in a position to continue funding 80 per cent and 40 per cent of these economic costs,” he added.
According to Mr. Holness, the government will, over time, be taking steps to expand the base of the SLB to $20 billion. It will therefore become easier for persons to access these loans, as the requirement for guarantors will be removed. In addition, the loan will be repayable over a longer period.
“The objective is to ensure that tertiary education is equitable. We must find solutions to ensure that when you qualify, financing is available for everyone,” the Minister said.
Additionally, he said a pool of funds would be identified and made available to those with the requisite qualification. Under this arrangement, “repayment will begin as soon as the student gains employment,” Mr. Holness said.
Stating that some areas of study are currently under-served, the Minister said incentives would be provided for students to pursue careers in the field of engineering, and some auxiliary professions in the medical area.
Among other matters of concern discussed were: employment opportunities and ways to contribute to the development of communities.
The event was organised by Minister of State for Local Government in the Office of the Prime Minister, and Member of Parliament for Western St. Mary, Hon. Robert Montague.
Participating were: Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Mike Henry; Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett; Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, and Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Shahine Robinson.

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