Jamaican opposition urges UWI to allow exams

The People’s National Party (PNP) Saturday urged the University of the West Indies (UWI) to allow final year students faced with outstanding arrears to sit their exams due to begin this week.

“These students are not asking for a hand-out. All they are asking is for the university, and by extension, the Government of Jamaica to let them sit their exams, hold their grades and diplomas until full payment of outstanding fees are cleared. This would avoid any disappointment of wasting their study and money already invested,” former education minister Rev. Ronald Thwaites said in a statement.

Students facing de-registration

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The students are facing de-registration because of non-payment of fees and Thwaites, the PNP shadow education minister, said it has long been the party’s policy and practice to facilitate students, especially those from working class and unemployed families, to have the opportunity of tertiary education.

He noted that very recently, Education Minister Ruel Reid had made a similar commitment on behalf of the government. He quoted Reid as saying, “Only final year students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona who have been deemed needy by the university and the Guild of Students or have applied for help through the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) or Jamaica Values and Attitudes (JAMVAT) program will receive special relief to clear outstanding arrears.”

UWI’s “lenient” policy

In a statement earlier this week, the UWI said it had formulated and instituted the new “lenient” policy regarding examinations with outstanding tuition fees to give students ample time to get their affairs in order. It said that with this policy, non-finalizing students can sit their examinations on the condition that they have no balances for previous semesters but can have a balance for the current semester, while final-year students must clear all balances before sitting examinations.

The university said that the policy was first communicated on June 9, 2017 and indicated a deadline for tuition payments of April 13 for finalizing students, with five reminders between June 2017 and April 7, until a further notice was issued on April 23, extending the deadline to April 27.

In his statement, Thwaites said he was urging Reid “to intervene with UWI to save the students who are experiencing this challenge of pending deregistration.”

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