Education Ministry and Opposition on Tuition Fees

With the impact of COVID-19 resulting in job losses and suspended overseas summer work programs, an increase in tuition fees for courses quoted in U.S dollars was not expected by students at the University of the West Indies. The situation has led to concerns that the university appears to be going back on its promise…and there have been calls for it to be adjusted.

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge said, ” while I understand the need and rationale of the university to set their fees against the backing of a so-called international currency, to account for fluctuations in our own Jamaican dollar, as well as to standardize fees for international students, I am confused as to why the fees cannot be set in local currency and still achieve the same effect.”

“As a major seat of learning, UWI should make sure they’re on the right side of the issues that will define the debates and write the history of the post-COVID era. They need to make sure that they do not become willing partners to the disenfranchisement of our students, robbing them of their education, by adopting financial regimes that only benefit the privileged,” he continued.

It is a statement that the Shadow Minister of Education, Peter Bunting appears to agree with.

In a news release, he said, “it is not right for the UWI or any educational institution to hold students at ransom for wanting an education. When you consider the price elasticity of demand, increased tuition fees will mean fewer students enrolling because they simply cannot afford it. It is unconscionable for students to be expected to cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses, just days ahead of the start of their respective programmes.”

The University of the West Indies says it is has heard the concerns of the students but many are still worried that the tertiary institution will not make any noticeable change to the fees.