National scholars studying medicine in Jamaica say they will explore their legal options if Government refuses to pay tuition as promised.
The students claim they are being told to give up their scholarships and join the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) Programme. On November 23, the parent of one of the affected students wrote to Education Minister Anthony Garcia asking him to reconsider the decision to not pay the full tuition for additional scholars studying at the University of West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica.
According to the letter, the student earned an additional scholarship based on her performance in the 2018 CAPE examinations and applied to the medical schools at Mt Hope and Mona.
“Every year many students are left heartbroken and dejected by this apparent arbitrariness in the selection process. She did not want to be so oppressed so she applied to Jamaica as a safeguard knowing that she would at least benefit from GATE or possibly a national scholarship,” the parent wrote,
“The decision not to pay the full fees for additional scholars studying in Jamaica has given rise to a serious anomaly. She will now be receiving significantly less for tuition as a scholar than when she was receiving GATE.
“This anomaly erodes the benefits that should proceed from gaining a scholarship. In fact, it will lead to serious financial discomfort for my daughter while she pursues her studies. It is as though she is receiving punishment rather than benefits for being a national scholar. Indeed there are students who did not receive a national scholarship, and have gained acceptance to Mt Hope Medical School, while she did not.”
Another parent appealed to Garcia for assistance with to pay $130,000 in tuition fees per academic plus approximately $37,000 for living accommodation and $30,000 for school supplies and personal expenses.
“Up to last year, they paid the full fees but now it’s like they are trying to rob these students of the scholarships by forcing them to take GATE, which can be stopped. Applying to all the campuses was an option all students have but Cabinet trying to take that option from additional scholars and we would like to know why,” said the parent of an affected student.
Garcia did not respond to calls for comment yesterday
However a notice issued by the Ministry of Education’s Scholarships and Advanced Training Division stated that with effect from September 2018, recipients of Additional Nationals Scholarships studying at the Mona or Cave Hill campuses of UWI will be paid full tuition and compulsory fees if they provide evidence that they applied to the St Augustine Campus and did not gain admission.
- by Rhondor Dowlat