JIS News

Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that the Government’s subsidy for tertiary tuition will continue this year.
“In a time of recession, in a time of crisis, the Government could not in all good conscience pursue a policy of radically adjusting the subsidy to our tertiary institutions, this would cause a dislocation that we could not sustain or would not be in our interest and we made a commitment that as far as possible, we would keep our funding to the university stable,” he stated.
Mr. Holness was speaking at the opening ceremony of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) annual Research Day held today (January 28) at the UWI Mona campus.
He noted, however, that the allocations will be frozen at the 2009/10 level. “I don’t think that this comes as a surprise to anyone, certainly not to the administration of the university and certainly not to the administration of the guild of students. From the outset, we have sent the signal that there would have to be a restructuring and rebalancing in the way in which tertiary education is funded,” Mr. Holness said.
He explained further that this year “there is a wage freeze right across the public sector so the subsidy to the university from that perspective will remain flat.”
As it relates to the operating expenses of the UWI, Minister Holness said that the Government will, as far as possible, try to maintain the same level of funding “but that of course is dependent on the level of revenue that we collect because the truth is we cannot borrow any more.”
The Government spends $14 billion on tertiary education every year, with $2 billion at the early childhood level and $10 billion on primary education.
Minister Holness said it is not only at the university level where the subsidy will remain flat, as the grant for secondary school examinations has been revised and will be cut “dramatically”.
As it relates to student fees at the tertiary level, he assured that these will not be increased above the inflation rate.
“We are not expecting the tertiary institutions to increase their fees above the inflation rate and where there are students experiencing difficulties, next week, when the Cabinet meets, we will be discussing a targeted approach to assisting those students who are having difficulties and who will be potentially de-registered from the institutions in which they are enrolled,” Mr. Holness said.
He added that “the Government is very cognisant of the impact that the current recession is having on our students, but the situation is such that whatever we do, we have to take into consideration the bigger picture.”

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