Government looking at reducing university education expenditure
March 15, 2013

Government looking at reducing university education expenditure

With a debt to the University of the West Indies of EC$9.6 million, the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is looking at ways to reduce its expenditure on university education.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on the question by the Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, to state what was the current amount owed by the government to the University of the West Indies (UWI).

“The financing of education has become a very expensive business,” the prime minister said.

The Barbadian government, for example, he said, owes the university BDS$200 million.

He explained that his government spends EC$7.5 million annually on scholarships and grants, which are provided through the Public Service Commission, to the University of the West Indies.

The contribution coming from the Ministry of Finance amounted to $6.5 million, he said.

“But even those numbers do not tell the whole story, because through the student loan program, we have now a contingent liability in the region of EC$50 million,” Gonsalves said.

He, however, explained that the government is now looking at ways of reducing these amounts by assisting with the financing of online programs.

“And we have, through the Community College, a number of programmes being offered face to face,” he said, adding that there were also a number of associate degree programs being offered at that institution.

In addition, there were scholarships being made available all across the world and regarding medical training, Gonsalves said that Vincentian students applying at the Trinity or All Saints Medical Schools were eligible to get special rates.

“And there are many Vincentian students enrolled, including top scholars, who prefer to do their medical education here,” Gonsalves said.

The government was now at a stage, the prime minister explained, where a list of areas of study was being prioritized for expenditure in areas where there is greatest need for trained persons.

This list, he said, had already been approved by Cabinet.

“It’s a highly expensive business and we believe that we are on track to have one university graduate per household by 2025,” the prime minister said. (DD)