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Jones’ call

Wade Gibbons

Jones’ call

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IT COSTS GOVERNMENT about $100 000 annually for each individual who studies medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
And that is the tip of a financial mountain which Minister of Education Ronald Jones yesterday said prospective students were not only duty-bound to utilize to the best of their abilities, but also use as the reason to commit to giving back some of that education to society.
Speaking in the House of Assembly during debate on a resolution for $66 299 239 from the Consolidated Fund to be placed at the disposal of Government
to supplement the 2010- 2011 Estimates for education, Jones outlined the massive cost Government incurs in the provision of “free” tertiary education at UWI.
The majority of the supplementary ($60 million) is to go to UWI, with the remainder earmarked for Codrington College and Combermere.
Jones said the full-time tuition fee for pure applied sciences stood at $5 500 annually, coupled with an economic cost of $27 500 per student. The cost for students in the Faculty of Humanities and Education, as well as Social Sciences, he noted, was a similar $33 000 per student annually. The Faculty of Law, Jones revealed, carried a tuition fee of $8 800 and an economic cost of $44 000.
Describing medicine as the “big one”, Jones said the tuition fee for each student was $16 618 and an economic cost of $83 000 annually.
He said there were 85 students enrolled in the three years that the programme had been operating, with Barbados having about 35 students. Jones said Government was also supporting students at Mona in Jamaica and Mount Hope in Trinidad and Tobago.
Jones suggested that university graduates should give of their time freely in helping slow learners at resource centres and in communities across the island.
He said Government was aware that it had to advance the current rate of those who accessed tertiary education, whether at the UWI, Barbados Community College, Codrington College, Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic or Erdiston Teachers’ College. That rate, he indicated, was about 38 per cent of the eligible population.
He revealed that the enrolment rate in South America, Europe and parts of Asia was over 50 per cent. He added only Barbados and the Bahamas in the Caribbean had gone past 30 per cent.
Jones said Government had continued its focus on education and this was reflected in the fact that it took up about 19 to 20 per cent of the state’s annual budget.
He said UWI’s doors remained “wide open” to all those who satisfied the requirements for tertiary level education, and the Democratic Labour Party would never shut the doors of the institution to anyone.
But, he stressed, students had to make a personal commitment not to waste time at the institution.
“Settle and study. Ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not wasted; that you come out as the best that you possibly can be . . . . It is too heavy a [financial] commitment to dilly-dally,” he said, adding that situation applied to every other tertiary institution.