Prin­ci­pal: Only well-to-do may soon be able to af­ford tu­ition

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Sport 6 -

A CRI­SIS may well be loom­ing in Bar­ba­dos with only the chil­dren of the well-to-do be­ing able to ac­cess higher ed­u­ca­tion.

This stark warn­ing came yes­ter­day from prin­ci­pal of the Univer­sity of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Pro­fes­sor Eu­dine Bar­riteau, while ad­dress­ing a schol­ar­ship pre­sen­ta­tion by the Op­ti­mist In­ter­na­tional club to stu­dent Ak­i­lah Jor­dan-wat­son.

“As you know, the chal­lenge of fund­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion is be­com­ing quite acute and, in essence, a cri­sis may well be loom­ing. We have taken higher ed­u­ca­tion for granted,” she said.

En­rol­ment lev­els have dropped at Cave Hill ever since Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to end tax­payer fund­ing of UWI tu­ition fees in 2014, go­ing from 8 711 stu­dents in 2013 to 4 203 for the cur­rent aca­demic year.

The prin­ci­pal said she was wor­ried that if the trend con­tin­ued, higher ed­u­ca­tion would be only for the elite.

“We know in Bar­ba­dos the econ­omy is tight – par­ents of­ten make sac­ri­fices and it is a choice now whether it is one child who can go [to univer­sity] or if it is two, who can go or whether none can go,” she said.

Point­ing to her own ex­am­ple, Bar­riteau said she owed much of her suc­cess to be­ing able to earn her first de­gree at Cave Hill. She noted that if she had had to pay at that time, her mother would have been un­able to af­ford it.

In light of the sit­u­a­tion, she called on the pub­lic to of­fer more schol­ar­ships to UWI stu­dents, urg­ing pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor en­ti­ties, non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­di­vid­u­als in lead­er­ship po­si­tions and UWI alumni to play their part.

Bar­riteau added that the house­hold in­come thresh­old for the higher ed­u­ca­tion grant which Gov­ern­ment gave to stu­dents should be higher than the cur­rent $25 000 or less per year. Given the high cost of liv­ing in Bar­ba­dos, she said ef­forts were be­ing made to have the thresh­old lifted to $35 000.

She said Cave Hill was do­ing what it could to help stu­dents through grants and schol­ar­ships, but was ham­pered by its strait­ened fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances. The pro­fes­sor said the $200 mil­lion debt which Gov­ern­ment owed to UWI was al­most stran­gling the in­sti­tu­tion, neg­a­tively im­pact­ing its abil­ity to ex­pand and meet grow­ing de­mand.

Bar­riteau thanked the Op­ti­mists for pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ships as the cam­pus could not do it alone.

Schol­ar­ship win­ner Jor­dan-wat­son was also grate­ful. “It has been very help­ful for me and my fam­ily; it has in­spired me to push on for my de­gree and to fur­ther my ed­u­ca­tion there­after.”

While not­ing that her par­ents were fi­nanc­ing her stud­ies, she said she hoped more stu­dents would be in­spired to take up schol­ar­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to help them fur­ther their stud­ies.

The as­pir­ing bio­chemist and former stu­dent of The Peo­ple’s Cathe­dral Pri­mary School and Har­ri­son Col­lege is in the first year of a bach­e­lor of science de­gree in bio­chem­istry with mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy.

Jor­dan-wat­son wrote the win­ning es­say at the lo­cal and district level of the Op­ti­mists In­ter­na­tional Es­say Com­pe­ti­tion, on the topic Lead By Ex­am­ple: Re­al­ity Or Fic­tion. ( LK)

SCHOL­AR­SHIP WIN­NER Ak­i­lah Jor­dan-wat­son (left) ac­cept­ing her award from pres­i­dent of the Op­ti­mists Club of Bar­ba­dos Cen­tral, Dionne O’con­nor (sec­ond right). Look­ing on are UWI prin­ci­pal Pro­fes­sor Eu­dine Bar­riteau (sec­ond left), sec­re­tary/trea­surer of the

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