Finance Minister Dr.Ashni Singh on Wednesday anounced that government would be providing funding for student loans to be granted to students of the University of Guyana to meet the cost of the increased tuition fees recently announced by the University.
Demerara Waves Online News was told that an additional GUY$50 million has been made available, but the actual disbursement would depend on the number of students who take loans from the Finance Ministry. Government had budgeted GUY$450 million for student loans for 2014 but that was before the tuition fee hike.
The cost of tuition from the 2014-2015 academic year has moved from GUY$127,000 per academic year to GUY$160,000 for new students and GUY$130,000 for continuing students. The Miscellaneous Fee has been replaced by a Facilities Fee of GUY$50,000 per academic year.
The Minister explained that the Cabinet concluded its deliberations on the matter yesterday, having examined it exhaustively, and decided that student loans will be granted to cover the new tuition fees. The Minister also clarified that, as before, the loans granted to finance tuition fees will not include the facilities fee which has historically been paid by students outside of the student loan arrangement.
As a result of this decision, Minister Singh indicated that he had issued the necessary directive for the Student Loan Agency to commence processing loan applications immediately for the coming academic year.
Minister Singh emphasised that the decision by Government to grant the increased student loans was made as a result of this Government’s commitment to ensure that no Guyanese student is denied access to University education because of affordability.
The Minister also emphasised that the increased revenue earned by the University through the new tuition fees provides the University with an important opportunity to make the necessary changes to ensure better effectiveness in its operations. The University needs to make a more concerted effort to streamline its operations to ensure value for money, more prudent management, and a sustained higher quality of teaching and research output, stated the Finance Minister.
At the same time, Minister Singh indicated that the Cabinet expressed its continuing concern about the poor rate of repayment of loans previously granted, and urged increased voluntary compliance, even as Government considers options for strengthening enforcement to raise repayment rates.
The ideal option, Minister Singh declared, would be for persons to act responsiblyand repay previous loans they were granted voluntarily without any stringent enforcement measures having to be applied