Cabinet appoints Task Force to review GATE programme

Date: 
Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 00:00

Cabinet has appointed a 16-person Task Force to review the Government Assistance for Tertiary Education (GATE) programme and to report back in four months.

Among the things the Task Force is being charged with, is to find ways to reduce the cost of GATE to the State and to recommend what programmes and which institutions should qualify.

GATE was introduced by a PNM Government in 2004 and over 190,000 people have benefitted from it so far at a cost of $5.5 billion.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says that for 2016, $650 million has been allocated to the programme.

But he says there have been growing concerns about whether the GATE programme was contributing to economic development. 

He told today's post-Cabinet news conference that there is a lack of comprehensive data with respect to graduation rates, post-graduation employment, market demands and migration of students.

He says there is a lack of tracking of students funded by GATE.

The Task Force is being asked to review the policy guidelines that govern GATE, look at ways to reduce the overall cost and set criteria for eligibility of programmes and institutions.

It must report back to Cabinet by July 2016.

Errol Simms has been appointed to chair the Task Force, which will include representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and Development, the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprises, the Tobago House of Assembly, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the Human Resource Association, the Women's Institute for Alternative Development and the UWI Guild of Students.

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ABOUT GATE: 

Students can obtain financial assistance for tertiary-level education through the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE).  GATE funds cover 100% of tuition expenses for undergraduate students and up to 50% of tuition expenses, to a maximum of TT$10,000, for postgraduate students.

All students who accept GATE funds, including postgraduate students, will be bound by a period of national service that will be linked to the value of the funds received.  National service is defined as employment within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in either the public or private sector.  The period of national service is determined as follows:

One year for recipients of up to TT$50,000.
Two years for recipients of TT$50,000 to TT$100,000.
Three years for recipients of TT$100,000 to TT$150,000.
Four years for recipients of TT$150,000 to TT$200,000.
Five years for recipients of over TT$200,000.

Part-time students accessing GATE may apply their current employment experience as part of their period of national service.  Recipients must repay the total amount of the GATE funds received to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago if they do not complete the required period of national service. 

This programme is made available through the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (TEST).