UWI student guild head relieved fees won’t rise

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UWI student guild president Kobe Sandy said efforts are being made to deliver fresh food to students who often opt for fast foods. –

President of the UWI St Augustine Guild of Students Kobe Sandy has said implementing a hybrid learning system and increasing the number of online courses available to students can help the university reduce and manage operational costs.

During a phone call with Newsday on Friday, Sandy addressed the need for the university to address its financial shortfalls after the government’s decision to cut funding to the university by ten per cent.

During a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Finance Minster Colm Imbert said the government met with the St Augustine Guild on the issue of raising fees, which would have seen students paying between 25 and 71 per cent, depending on their course of study.

Imbert said while government could not tell the campus how to run its affairs, it was suggested that some of its 300 courses be cut. He said the campus will now have approximately $450 million in subvention as well GATE funding from the State.

“Covid19 has shown us that many of our programmes can be comfortably done online,” said Sandy. “Come September, a hybrid approach can be utilised that would help reduce in-person expenditure.”

He said while he could not comment on which programmes should be cut, following the government’s advice, it should be cautious in making that decision.

“You don’t want to cut courses necessary for the development of the country and the region. Also, you don’t want to make the university unmarketable.

“What we should do is see what can be merged, where there is redundancy, see what is working for the economy and what the student body is subscribing to as well.”

He said he was relieved by the government’s suggestions to hold on increasing student tuition fees.

“GATE would not have been in tandem with that. Even students who receive 100 per cent funding would have had to find thousands to cover the cost. In the short term we are relieved, but in the long term there are still uncertainties that must be addressed.”

He said while he understands the economic concerns, the university must still work to revolutionise its revenue-making opportunities.