Tertiary financing needs reform – Holness


Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that while tertiary financing needs urgent reform, the Government has to ensure that borrowers do not default on their debts to the Student’s Loan Bureau (SLB).
Mr. Holness was addressing the House of Representatives on (October 26) on the issue of the guarantor system for SLB loans, which Member of Parliament of Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites argued, caused too many to not qualify for a loan.
“We need to reform our financing of tertiary education so that we can make the payments less onerous than they are now, and encourage more persons to access the loan whilst removing the barriers and obstacles but at the same time, we need to ensure that you can’t escape your obligations to the Student’s Loan,” the Education Minister said.
He opined also that the system should go in the direction of deducting loans from borrower’s salaries once they gain employment. “My view is that the loan should be freely available and when you start working, it should be deducted at source – in other words, it should be treated like a statutory deduction that I believe is the direction in which government policy has to go,” he said.
Mr. Holness stressed that he was cognisant of the challenges faced by both students and the SLB, and the urgent need for change. “As a country, we will have to ensure that more persons get access to higher level education it is clear that the current way in which we finance tertiary education is inadequate and insufficient. My vision is that the SLB should be so adequately financed that you should be able to remove the guarantor,” he stated.
The Education Minister assured that his Ministry, and the Ministry of Finance and Public Service are working to develop a policy that will be rolled out shortly to address the issue.

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