COVID de­rails UWI stu­dent’s sum­mer work plans

The Star (Jamaica) - - Front Page -

Ja­maican stu­dents who ben­e­fit yearly from the J-1 Sum­mer Work and Travel pro­gramme have had to shelve their plans for 2020, due to COVID-19.

They are no longer able to count on the money they would’ve earned through the pro­gramme, and they have to kiss the thou­sands of dol­lars they spent in prepa­ra­tion good­bye.

“I think I can speak for the ma­jor­ity when I say that we had hopes of trav­el­ling over­seas this sum­mer to gain rev­enue to­wards our tu­ition and other per­sonal ex­penses. How­ever, corona had other plans and while the stu­dent work and travel pro­gramme would have pro­vided a tem­po­rary sense of fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity, our health re­mains top pri­or­ity. And so a can­cel­la­tion from the pro­gramme was in­evitable; that, how­ever, came with a cost,”a third-year Univer­sity of the West Indies (UWI) stu­dent told THE WEEK­END STAR.

Un­der the pro­gramme, the

US government al­lows for­eign univer­sity stu­dents to travel and work within the US for sev­eral months.

The stu­dent, who has been on the pro­gramme be­fore, says she spent more than US$1,000 to be part of the pro­gramme.

But, ac­cord­ing to the con­tract, that money can only be re­funded af­ter Au­gust 15, 2020, and that comes at a price.

“I paid US$1,300 be­cause it was my sec­ond time. Other stu­dents paid US$1,590. For most of these pro­grammes, there is a clear out­line of the re­fund pro­ce­dure upon can­cel­la­tion and an out­line of pos­si­ble rea­sons for can­cel­la­tion. For the Stu­dents’ Work and Travel (SWAT) pro­gramme lo­cated at UWI, Mona, the can­cel­la­tion fee is US$400,” she said. “Many peo­ple had to take loans to pay for this pro­gramme and would have been re­quired to start re­pay­ment way be­fore Au­gust 15.”

SWAT col­lab­o­rates with non­profit, pub­lic ben­e­fit, ed­u­ca­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions that spon­sor work and travel agencies in­ter­na­tion­ally.

She be­lieves no thought has been given to the fact that the world is cur­rently fac­ing a pan­demic, and US$400, which is more than J$55,000, is hard to give up over a sit­u­a­tion that couldn’t be pre­vented.

“While I do un­der­stand that they (the in­ter­na­tional spon­sor) have a staff to pay and util­i­ties, I per­son­ally think that is way too much given that their con­tracts do not speak to what is called ‘force ma­jeure (un­forseen) events’, which would en­com­pass the cur­rent pan­demic. I have ac­cepted a US$400 re­duc­tion be­cause the lengthy court pro­ceed­ing isn’t some­thing that I want to fo­cus on while study­ing; it was a les­son learnt,” she said.

THE WEEK­END STAR at­tempted to get a com­ment from of­fi­cials at SWAT with­out suc­cess.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.