The Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, and the Minister of Education, Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, presented on the funding of the University of the West Indies, the cost of the UWI to taxpayers, recent proposals by the UWI on an increase in tuition fees, and Government’s response.
At this time, no decision has been taken to increase fees this year but there will be discussions for the next Academic Year.
Minister Imbert said the enrolment in tertiary education has grown “exponentially” as a result of the GATE Programme, but Government has had to limit the amount of money to the UWI, and the amount spent on GATE.
Minister Imbert noted that the Mona and Cave Hill campuses have been cutting back on the amount of money spent. However, the St. Augustine Campus has been asking for more. He noted that Government has spent around $700 million on the UWI, St. Augustine Campus ($500 million spent per year to the University, plus GATE funding in the range of $200 million).
Minister Imbert said Government does not share the view that an increase in tuition fees is the solution to UWI seeking more money. He noted that the University has over 300 course offerings and this must be looked at by the University itself. He stated that the Government will not tell the University what courses to drop but what it can do is tell the University that they have a specific amount of money available to them.
Education Minister Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly noted that fees at UWI St. Augustine have not increased in 21 years. She said the St. Augustine Campus is the lowest in the region. The Mona and Cave Hill campuses increased their fees over the years due to inflation.
On ongoing wage negotiations/backpay, Minister Imbert said: “Whatever backpay that has to be paid, we will have to borrow. Again, I want to stress the point, we are running a deficit budget.” He clarified that the 2% offer is an initial offer. Negotiations are continuing and the Chief Personnel Officer is reconvening meetings with the various unions this month.