The National Student Loan Company will not finance a student to pursue a degree internationally, if it can be done in the region at the University of the West Indies.
This is according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who was making a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly on August 25.
“…We are not, except in any unique or special circumstances, we are not going to finance somebody doing a degree in the United States or Canada in an area which they can do at the UWI. We have done the analysis that those who go there are among the more delinquent. They tend to stay there…” he said.
Economically disadvantaged loans granted by the National Student Loan Company are guaranteed by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In 2017, Gonsalves had reported that the government had guaranteed over $90 million in loans and delinquency in repayments had risen to between 20 and 25 per cent.
And, in Parliament last week, he said that the government had now guaranteed approximately $100 million in loans and repayment was about 70 per cent.
This he said, “as these kinds of loans go, is assessed to be a reasonable level of compliance of repayments and for those who have been delinquent, we are continuing to collect.”
Gonsalves said that 70 loans were granted this year under the Economically Disadvantaged Student Loan programme to students going to university.
Separately, he said that there were 1200 students enrolled at the university level overseas, who were being supported in one way or another by government.
He added that the government also provides assistance to students studying at the UWI Open Campus as well as to student athletes who have received partial scholarships from universities abroad.
“In terms of tuition scholarships, which is a new category which we introduced up to $25,000 for tuition, the number as of this morning is 212. Last year it was 210,” the prime minister said.
“I had intended this year that we would have done maybe 130 but when I was overseas in Taiwan and I was contacted and they had to make a decision, I was able to give directions for us to enlarge the numbers and that’s where they are.”
He said this was particularly important for students who attend universities like the University of Technology in Jamaica and the University of Technology in Trinidad, where St Vincent and the Grenadines is not a contributing country like it is at the UWI.