When the new semester begins this month, at least 50 Barbadian students will benefit from financial assistance from the Guild of Students of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, as it makes good on a promise to help struggling students meet tuition costs.
Guild President Kai Bridgetwater told Barbados TODAY the decision to absorb the tuition fees for some students was the Guild’s way of being proactive.
Since the Democratic Labour Party administration stopped paying tuition costs for Barbadians four years ago, many students have complained of finding it increasingly difficult to meet the cost of their education at the university.
This situation was compounded by the university announcing that effective next month, tuition fees at the Cave Hill Campus in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education, and Science and Technology would move from $5,625 to $6,000 annually, while tuition fees in the Faculty of Law would increase from $8,808 to $9,000. Fees for Faculty of Medical Sciences remained unchanged.
This immediately prompted Bridgetwater to announce plans to help some of the struggling students. He said all systems were now in place for the guild to fulfil that pledge to deserving students.
“As a Guild of Students we have to be proactive and do our part in alleviating the issues the students are facing, not just from the perspective of the Government, but within our own limited resources. So what we have done is we have restructured our tuition grant programme to ensure that at least 50 students will have the increase in their tuition fees absorbed by the Guild of Students,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We created seven Guild scholarships for the first time, which is to reward students who are achieving excellence both inside and outside of the classroom. Now we have five scholarships, one for each faculty for academic excellence; additionally, we have one for excellence in any recognized sporting discipline.”
Bridgewater said the Guild has also revamped its welfare programme, committing an extra $15,000 to help students who were having a difficult time buying groceries and paying their rent.
“Additionally, we believe in providing a platform for the students of our university. So, we have created a young entrepreneurial programme where we are trying to give an opportunity to our young student business owners to market their products and publicize their businesses and give them an opportunity to make some money.
“The reality is that one of the problems facing the youth is a lack of opportunity, and we believe that as a youth organization we should be trying to provide these opportunities wherever we can,” Bridgewater said, adding that the Guild would also host various entertainment events starting next week to help the students show off their talents.
Government has rejected a proposal to pay the increased fees announced by the university, which would equate to approximately $1.5 million. The Guild had hoped that Government would have agreed to deduct that amount from the over $94 million it owes the tertiary learning institution.
However, Bridgewater said he would have a second chance to make his case in about a month, after he collects data to prove that the current and prospective students are genuinely in need of assistance.