Thwaities Proposes Tertiary Education Fund

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica will have to look into establishing a devoted fund for the financing of tertiary education
  • Parliamentary Committee to examine the affordability of funding tertiary education
  • Demand for student loans has increased over the last six years

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says Jamaica will have to look into establishing a devoted fund for the financing of tertiary education.

“At some stage in the future, recognising all the restrictions of the present time, we should look at a devoted fund much like the National Housing Trust (NHT)…. to invest in the tertiary education of those who need it most,” he said.

The Education Minister was contributing to debate in the House of Representatives on July 23, on a private members motion brought by Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Dr. Dayton Campbell.

Dr. Campbell, in his motion, called for the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of Parliament to be mandated “to urgently examine the adequacy and affordability of funding tertiary education in Jamaica, and report to this Honourable House on its findings and recommendations”.

Minister Thwaites, in his contribution, cited the importance of parents saving towards their child’s tertiary studies and expressed concern about the ‘add on’ interest charged on loans by the Student Loan Bureau (SLB).

“The repayment should be on the basis of a simply interest figure in single digits on the reducing balance,” he said.

Demand for student loans has increased over the last six years, moving from 6,600 persons in 2007 to 16,600 in 2012, and is projected to swell to over 20,000 persons for the upcoming academic year.

The growth in demand, coupled with the annual increase in tuition costs, has significantly increased the pressure on the limited resources of the SLB to provide loans, which is estimated to reach $20 billion for the 2015/16 financial year.

For the 2013/14 academic year, approximately $4.9 billion is required to fully cover the projected demand, which will be financed by the Education Tax and loan inflows from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The motion was approved and sent to the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of Parliament for further deliberation.

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