National scholars stranded without tuition fees

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

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