Terrelonge backs UWI students, says USD fees unconscionable
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information, Alando Terrelonge has joined calls from students in some faculties at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona for the institution to quit quoting tuition fees in US dollars.
The faculties of engineering, film, law, medicine, nursing quote fees in US dollars, and students have raised complaints regarding the significant increase in fees for the 2020/21 academic year.
Social media has been rife with calls, comments, and complaints from UWI students imploring the respective faculty administrations to not quote tuition fees in US dollars. The students also want the tertiary institution to reduce said fees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will significantly decrease face-to-face sessions, and has hampered students’ ability to earn US dollars from the now cancelled overseas summer-work programmes.
“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.
“I would like to believe that those days are part of a past that UWI is not trying to resurrect. The primary focus of our tertiary institutions must be centred around youth engagement, education, and empowerment. A greater balance must be achieved between tertiary institutions as "business operators" and, tertiary institutions as repositories of higher learning and ultimate empowerment of our youth and nation,” said Terrelonge in a statement from the ministry.
“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 standardise fees for international students, I am confused as to why the fees cannot be set in local currency and still achieve the same effect,” continued the state minister.
The minister is calling for the US dollar quotes to stop and for fees to be adjusted to reflect the conditions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“With little or no face-to-face learning sessions, with the majority of engagement migrated to virtual platforms, fee structures should be recalibrated,” Terrelonge said.