UWI Guild president Warren Anderson

The Guild of Students will seek to find out how many Post Graduate Students will be affected by the recent cuts to the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE).

Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew yesterday, President of the UWI Guild Warren Anderson explained the recent announcement was another blow for the education system which has seen its share of trials this year from the postponement of exams, as well as the less than smooth transition into the virtual classroom.

“There is a feeling that Education is under siege, certainly at the UWI we have already been grappling with issues of digital devices and connectivity to the internet, getting recording for classes and these kinds of things so this news, this cut in GATE, certainly comes as a punch to the gut,” Warren Anderson said.

He said the Guild will seek a meeting with various stakeholders to identify affected students between now and early next year, as he was aware many students would be preparing to sit exams at this time.

The impact of COVID-19 on education has been seen around the world as tertiary enrollment around the world has taken a hit.

Many reacting to the news on social media lamented that now they had to forego plans to pursue a master’s degree. However, according to the University of the West Indies Communication department, there already had been a decline in new postgraduate students this year.

The university confirmed, “There are currently 1,172 new students enrolled in postgraduate programmes at UWI St Augustine for this academic year. This is a slight decline as in the same period last year, there were 1,430 newly enrolled.”

The university, however, could not confirm how many of those students had applied successfully for GATE assistance, stating applications were still pending.

Post Graduate students who aren’t already beneficiaries of the programme are the ones who have the biggest burden as they will have to fund their studies from now on, while those who don’t will only get assistance until next year.

Anderson stressed his concern is for the students who don’t have a source of income to pay for their studies.

“At UWI there are a lot of concerns, especially for postgraduate students. So the Guild of Students, we are taking one step at a time and examining the low hanging fruit which has to do with our postgraduate students and the most sensitive issue for us right now is that there are post-grad students who do not work. Who are justified in their mind that I need to continue straight out of high school, get my degree and pursue a master’s in whatever area the government is trying to develop human capacity,” said Anderson, who again questioned the decision to cut the funding for these programmes without taking into consideration these students.

Anderson, however, acknowledged that Economist Dr Roger Hosein had conducted a study which suggested that the GATE programme had been long used mainly by people with incomes of $9,000 and over.

Hosein also pointed out in that study, conducted in 2014, hat the programme needed revamping since despite the Government’s investment there had not been significant returns in terms of expanding the economy as envisioned.

Dr Hosein, however, said he was not available for an interview yesterday when contacted.