MP ac­cuses UTech of be­ing un­kind to needy stu­dents

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

MEM­BER OF Par­lia­ment (MP) Marisa Dal­rym­plePhilib­ert has blasted the Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (UTech) for what she de­scribes as its poor treat­ment of stu­dents who face dif­fi­cul­ties mak­ing tu­ition pay­ments.

Dal­rym­ple-Philib­ert raised con­cerns about the uni­ver­sity’s ap­proach to fee col­lec­tion last week while ad­dress­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors of the higher-ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion dur­ing their ap­pear­ance be­fore the Public Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee (PAAC) of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“We have stu­dents who have strug­gled to make pay­ment for fees when they get to fi­nal year. In some cases, they would come to the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and we write and give an un­der­tak­ing ... from the Con­stituency De­vel­op­ment Fund, but the has­sle and the un­kind­ness that stu­dents go through is not to me help­ing to de­velop our coun­try at this time ... peo­ple can’t study when they have that on them,” she said to UTech of­fi­cials.

Point­ing to a num­ber of cases where she has as­sisted stu­dents with tu­ition pay­ments, the South Trelawny MP charged that the poor treat­ment of stu­dents fac­ing dif­fi­culty pay­ing fees is a sys­temic prob­lem at UTech.

She called for in­ter­ven­tion from the lead­er­ship of the uni­ver­sity, to pre­vent stu­dents from be­ing dereg­is­tered from cour­ses when they have dif­fi­cul­ties pay­ing tu­ition.

“Yes, you need money ... but it should not be that al­most at the end of their ed­u­ca­tion, stu­dents should have to beg and scrounge like that so that they can be al­lowed to sit their ex­ams, and I am par­tic­u­larly un­happy with UTech about this,” she added.

In giv­ing his re­sponse to charges levied by Dal­rym­plePhilib­ert, UTech Act­ing Pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Colin Gyles, while ad­mit­ting that he has heard of sim­i­lar com­plaints, said he was par­tic­u­larly sad to learn that the uni­ver­sity is viewed as un­car­ing in its ap­proach to needy stu­dents.

“Every­time I hear it, it bleeds my heart, be­cause it is not some­thing that we foster or want to en­cour­age, and it does not rep­re­sent the over­all pos­ture of the in­sti­tu­tion,” he told mem­bers of the PAAC.

Gyles fur­ther went on to out­line that the uni­ver­sity has taken sev­eral steps to ac­com­mo­date stu­dents who have dif­fi­culty pay­ing their tu­ition fees. He, how­ever, ar­gued that col­lec­tion of fees is of crit­i­cal im­por­tance, given that 69 per cent of UTech’s op­er­at­ing cost is cov­ered by tu­ition fees paid by stu­dents.

With a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 13,000 stu­dents, UTech re­ceives a gov­ern­ment sub­ven­tion of $1.9 bil­lion, which cov­ers 31 per cent of its op­er­a­tional costs.

“We have to be very care­ful in try­ing to en­sure that we do col­lect the funds, be­cause if we don’t, we won’t be able to pay the lec­tur­ers and pro­duce the ma­te­rial for stu­dents to do their stud­ies,” he said.

The act­ing pres­i­dent also of­fered a per­sonal apol­ogy for the cases of needy stu­dents who have been mis­treated by the uni­ver­sity and made a com­mit­ment to take steps to re­duce such cases.

AN IN­TER­VEN­TION

DAL­RYM­PLE-PHILIB­ERT

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