Several Prime Ministers from across the Caribbean are considering a collective stance to address the increase of tuition fees by the Hugh Wooden Law School (HWLS), says Minister of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.
On Wednesday Harmon told a post-Cabinet press-conference that Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams, has briefed Cabinet that “several other countries have taken the position that the increase in fees should be put on hold.”
He said that Government of Guyana (GoG) is of the opinion that the increase is “arbitrary” and that “no notice was given to students” or their home government, and that “other ministers are asking that a common approach be taken in asking that the increase be put on hold so that students can be given due notice.”
Harmon further stated that government is in possession of a “letter from the Prime Minister of Dominica” which expresses similar sentiments. He did not specify which other countries have voiced such sentiments.
In July, HWLS announced a more than 30 percent increase in its tuition fees for students looking to pursue the two-year Legal Education Certificate (LEC) programme. Fees have also increased for students from other states, including Barbados and Dominica states. In the case of students graduating from the University of Guyana (UG) and looking to study at HWLS, the fees for the two years have increased to TT $182,028 (some G $5,824,448) from the previous amount of TT $131,400 (G $4,204,800). In real terms, students from Guyana have to find an additional G $1.6 million, based on an exchange rate of TT$1.00 = G$32.00.
Additionally, some UG graduates who have completed their first year at HWLS are faced with the uncertainly of continuing for the second and final year as they are unsure as to whether they will be able to raised the additional G$800,000 in time. Many of the students had raised or were in the process of raising the previously required fees.
Prior to the publishing of this information on the law school’s website, there was a notice of an impending fee-increase, although the amount was not stated.
Several prospective graduates of UG’s law programme had already started paying for their apartments in Trinidad and Tobago before the increase was announced as they were anticipating entering the school under the old tuition scheme. Some of these students still do not have the required amount to make the full payment for event the first year of studies.
HWLS is slated to commence its September by mid-September. There is a meeting of the Council of Legal Education (CLE) earlier in the month at which Guyana’s representatives to the council, including Williams, will seek to push the above-mentioned agenda, as well as other initiatives toward the realisation of a favourable outcome for UG law graduates looking to study at HWLS.