LETTER TO EDITOR: “Why stop school fees at University level?” By Margaret Gill

Dear Editor:

I declare my interest: I am a doctoral student at the Cave Hill Campus of the UWI. I have a vested interest in not increasing my current fees. That is right; for those of you, like Senator Alwyn Adams, who are unaware of what being at the UWI has meant for young and old investing in studies, students at the Cave Hill campus have paid fees for each semester of three months. for several years now. If one is like me, a post-graduate student, those can be as little as BDS $970.00 per year for the two semesters of a school year.

Surely $970 for a whole year is nothing, some of you would say. At the end the student gets to enjoy a big job and a big salary and live in a big house in a big development like Millennium Heights. And for that, they invested nothing. Only the Government invested.

All of the above is being sold as true and it is a big fabrication to excuse a failure to think adequately. Studying at a university and reading for a degree is actually not an activity of consumption.

Reading for a degree is an investment activity of exceedingly high risk past 1990, where none of the benefits outlined above are remotely likely unless one is fortunate to become a well-known lawyer, a connected doctor, an accountant with an international firm, or one is from a wealthy family or one with connections. Of course one could also become an elected member of parliament or better yet, a senator.

Reading for a degree is an investment activity of exceedingly high risk past 1990, where none of the benefits outlined above are remotely likely unless one is fortunate to become a well-known lawyer, a connected doctor, an accountant with an international firm, or one is from a wealthy family or one with connections. Of course one could also become an elected member of parliament or better yet, a senator.

As a full-time undergraduate student one invests three years of one’s life of not earning any income. (Or being under-employed. Some students take any work they can easily do along with studying, such as being a gas station attendant, supermarket bagger, baby-sitter, etc. Some might even take ‘real’ jobs on the sly from the university, but then their studies suffer…)

As a full-time student one halts one’s care-free attention to every available social activity as university teachers actually do expect exams to be taken and these, at the least, involve studying notes – at the least. Then there is the stress of seeing one’s school mates who are lucky (if they have been so lucky) work and advance while one is struggling to complete the degree. If one is part-time and usually with a family, well, need I say more about what one has to give up?

When you add to that the stress of hearing the society castigate you for being a freeloader while big business demands and gets freenesses from your parents’ or your packets which they denote as ‘concessions,’ the risk now goes into possibilities of failure. If only students at the university could come up with an acceptable word for what they do for themselves, their families, their communities, their country and the world.

Nevermind, their families who line the seats of the Gymnasium and their teachers who gather to cheer them as they pass out understand. We are there to cheer and silently offer the prayers they surely need, and to say, “You did good!

Me? I will not be able to complete without a miracle. My fees are going to be BDS $3,302.50. My net salary cannot support that. I could sell my spot of land which I managed to hold on to, and my house spot. I am not sure that is a good investment decision though as I am unlikely to become a senator.

Why not charge everybody education fees, from secondary level, Community college, polytechnic level up? Given the excuses I have head pass for explanations why one should charge university students, none of those levels of education are exempt from those explanation/excuses.

Guidance,

  • Margaret D. Gill

Student/ Teacher/ PhD hopeful

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