The Future of Higher Education – University debts and unpaid tuition fees by Shenhaye Ferguson

The Future of Higher Education – University debts and unpaid tuition fees

It is often sfuture-higher-edaid that education is the route to success, the way out of poverty and a path that allows one to climb up the social ladder. However, is education accessible to all? Was it meant for everyone? Will universities be able to sustain their future when students are unable to pay high tuition, miscellaneous and accommodation fees?

After reading the blog post by Boroughs (2013) about the effects of unpaid tuition fees on South African colleges, I recalled the research days 2017 at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, February 1-3, where students complained about the rising costs in accommodation fees on the campus. Three years later since Boroughs’ post (2013), the university students in South Africa continue to protest about high tuition fees in 2017 and here in Jamaica the battle continues. This is one of the trending issues across the globe and the quandary between students and universities continue and it begs the question of how will higher educational institutions (HEIs) like the UWI sustain its future if critical sources of funding, the students, are unable to pay their fees. Subsequently, how will Jamaica sustain its future through higher education, if students are not able to access for financial reasons.

Universities as an educational institution are seen as change agents. According to Mulhern, Spies, Staiger & Wu (2015) one of the missions of higher education is to prepare and educate its students to assume productive roles in the working world to contribute to the economy of the nation, live enriching lives and strengthen their communities. Arguably, this is a fair statement that any reasonable person can agree with; however, with students not being able to afford the high fees, they leave the universities and themselves indebted. As such I ask, are HEIs like the UWI, fulfilling their mission of serving the students and the nation as a public good? Is the future of higher education secured when students are not able to fund their degrees?

Unsecempty-purseured Future for Indebted Universities

Johnstone (2003) posits that the financial problems faced by institutions of higher education are worldwide and the increasing cost of tuition per student continues to be an issue for many. With a significant reduction in government funding at the UWI, the institution has been forced to resort to alternative measures, one of which includes increasing fees for students and by fees I refer to tuition, miscellaneous and accommodation.

Similar to the students in South Africa, the Guild of Students at the UWI can decide to protest violently at Queensway against exuberant fees. In truth, universities are now being operated as businesses, whereby, creating income generating avenues to meet the institution’s expenses. All businesses have to earn to stay afloat and if stagnant funding continues to prevail upon HEIs like the UWI, they might be forced to close their doors like St. Augustine College in South Africa in 2013 or the University of Pretoria that closed and re-opened in October 2016 due to violent protests by students (Redden, 2016).

Therefore, to secure the future of higher education, universities must be able to sustain themselves and as such must have a surplus and not a deficit for the organization to operate. In light of this, the reality is, fees are needed and Jamaica’s economy cannot afford free education. But are fees the only source of funding? What about sourcing more funding for research and seeking more investments. For example, the UWI recently added the Burger King and Bad Dawgs chain to their range of food offerings, for the campus this means additional income from these businesses. Students have already been asking for another healthy restaurant, which opens the possibility having opening doors to another restaurant that serves healthy meals.UWI-water.jpg

Additionally, in December 2016, the UWI on its mission of sustainability, commissioned their own well which removes them from paying high costs for water supply to National Water Commission (“UWI to save $150 m in water bills with new well,” 2016).

Implications of unpaid fees for students

Mstill-paying-loanscCaffrey (2010) states “the introduction of variable fees has accelerated a trend whereby students are much more likely to work during term-time (while studying full-time) yet still face greater debt on completion” (p. 272). Many students work pa
rt time on and off campus (for example Sutherland Global call centre) to pay their fees, others receive scholarship or funded by parents/guardians, while some resort to loans. Those that resort to loans end up paying twice or more upon completion of their degrees. We have seen this in Jamaica with the plethora of complaints about the Student Loan Bureau repaying system.

It is within this context that I ask how students will be able to provide and create their own sustainable future if they have to repay such high loans. They graduate, have the degree but spend half the time trying to repay the loan. Sadly, some students have also beeloan debt.jpgn asked to leave the university or not able to receive their transcripts or degrees until they have repaid all fees. Graduates socio-economic mobility hampered by high fees.

The Ministry of Education, Jamaica, places emphasis on the phrase “every child can learn, every child must learn.” Is this phrase a true reflection of our society today? If aspiring higher educational students are not able to afford tuition fees, how will we achieve sustained economic growths if a basic need such as education is hard to reach for many?

The irony –> Rise in Cost = More Students


Despite the constant rise in tuition fees at the UWI Mona campus, student enrolment in full time undergraduate programmes has increased consistently between 2010 and 2015, from 8,817 in 2010/11 to 11,403 in 2014/15 (Statistical Digest, 2016). Contrary to popular belief, one can argue that, the reality is fees will increase and since Jamaica has not gotten to the stage of the South Africans, then more students will continue to enrol and still complain about the fees. I will end how I began, education is the key to success, and we have recognized that it is an investment, fees high or low; universities will continue to have more students. Yes, some departments’ numbers have decreased but the overall enrolment rate has increased as stated above.

In Jamaica, the economy does not allow for fees to remain low, our dollar is weak and the inflation rate is high and universities will continue to increase.

Recommendations: Alternatives –> payment optionssave for college.jpg

As a nation, we have to create the policies that will lead us towards a sustainable future. Parents and guardians should be encouraged to plan for college. This planning should begin from before the child is born or while they are at a tender age. Additionally, universities should align themselves with graduates and strengthen alumni association to give back as a means of providing financial assistance to students in need. Furthermore, universities can offset the cost by continuing to explore other business ventures through public-private partnership. Finally the restructuring of the loan systems, such as the Student Loan Bureau’s payment plan, where students should be able to pay when they are employed and without interest or at a reduced interest rate.

Fees cannot be avoided, education is needed and without it we cannot create a sustainable future for all.


Boroughs, D. (2013, December 16). Plague of unpaid tuition afflicts colleges in South Africa. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Johnstone, D. (2003, September). Higher education finance and accessibility: tuition fees and student loans in Sub Saharan Africa. A case study prepared for a Regional Training Conference on Improving Tertiary Education in Sub Saharan Africa: Things that work, Accra. Retrieved from

McCaffery, P. (2010). Higher education manager’s handbook. New York: Routledge.

Mulhern, C., Spies, R.R., Staiger, M.P., & Wu, D. (2015, March 4). The effects of rising students costs in higher education: evidence from public institutions in Virginia.

Retrieved from

Redden, E. (2016, September 27). Protests continue at South African universities. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

The University of the West Indies. (2016, April). Statistical Digest 2010/11 to 2014/15. University Office of Planning and Development. Retrieved from

UWI offers 2% discount on tuition. (2016, July 25). The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved from–discount-on-tuition

UWI to save $150m in water bills with new well. (2016, December 16). The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved from–150m-in-water-bills-with-new-well


The Future of Higher Education – University debts and unpaid tuition fees by Shenhaye Ferguson

23 thoughts on “The Future of Higher Education – University debts and unpaid tuition fees by Shenhaye Ferguson

  1. shanique101 says:

    I agree with the recommendations put forward. In addition, the Higher Education (HE) institutions can implement a program where students work on campus in exchange for a reduced tuition. This will be a mutual relationship, because the institution will not pay the student as much as they would pay a full-time staff. In addition, the student will be motivated to work more hours in an effort to reduce the tuition. Is corporate Jamaica offering enough scholarships? Wouldn’t it be nice if all of large organizations in Jamaica offer at least two full scholarships to higher education students? It is not impossible. This would promote nation building as more students would be inspired to give back once they are employed.
    Part time students who are employed should consider asking their employers for assistance or grants as well. A lot of times students who are employed hide their student status from the employers and coworkers. This needs to stop because sometimes if they share, they can get financial support.
    Finally, students need to harness the power of BEGGING! I know some persons might argue that they don’t like the idea of begging but nothing is wrong with asking for help to further your studies. If you don’t know who to beg or how to beg then kneel before your bed and start BEGGING JESUS.

    Shanique Walker-Carty (Curriculum Student)


  2. tanneice says:

    The barrier of not being able to fund higher education remains a major hurdle, no question. There are so many issues that makes paying for higher education a challenge and at the need at the same time for those who so desire to attend. The recommendation for parents to begin to save from early for their children is welcomed – I am doing that for my own children, but the truth is, not all parents are able to put aside for their child’s or children’s higher education. What then do those parents who struggles to meet their basic need do for their children in relation to higher education? It seems that some will always be at an disadvantage – not because all do not have the potential to benefit from higher education or they are not deserving, the fact is, not all will be able to contribute. It is the reality we face.

    It is those at the most vulnerable end of the spectrum that I am concerned about. It may be those that scholarship funders, loan granters and grant granters need to seek out, not now based their grades (though I understand the principle), but along the line of need – using whatever criteria to make that determination. This may raise the question of equity, not now in relation to male and female, but between “the haves and the have nots”.

    While we cannot mandate scholarships – I wonder what the effect would be that every private company (both locally owned or international) is required to grant a scholarship to a University student and this is repeated every three years – so that the student is being supported throughout the full period of their undergraduate studies. The company that provides to support a student will be tax exempt or the full sum provided is deducted from their annual returns. Of course this idea will need to be processed further and a deeper look at all the variables and factors to determine feasibility. Not all company may qualify to support and this could be based on their profit margin ability to afford such an venture – but those who can should and bigger companies should be required to fund more students than smaller companies. It should be seen as a standard overhead cost to operation. How many companies do we have in Jamaica?. The beneficiary may be a children of their employees, their employees, or given to a pool that an independent body regulated and tasked with the responsibility to make the determination to grant based on need – and it should not matter if the programme of study relate closely to the type business of the company – higher education benefits everyone.

    I welcome all kinds of ideas for this Goliath of a barrier to access to higher education, as I firmly believe that no one programme will solve the problem.


  3. trevis24 says:

    If education is the vehicle to success, then why has it been made so expensive and burdensome to acquire same? This is a valid question you asked.

    Historically speaking, education was designed only for the wealthy and the prestigious. However, as time changed and the social strata became an open system only then was education accessible to other people. Even so, it has been undoubtedly a challenge for some people to gain access to education, considering the prices were hiked to maintain the status quo. Education was not designed for all.

    With that said it should be no surprise that university fees are so expensive today leaving many students and prospective students wondering what is the point of it all. Regardless, the sad reality is that higher education is costly, but are our students utilising the various opportunities at their disposal? There are many scholarship programmes available to people across the globe. I have seen friends completed medical and engineering degrees at universities abroad in places such as Russia, Turkey and Germany of no cost to them. The question is, why are more students not doing as my friends did? In our case, is the University of West Indies the only avenue to accessing higher education by the residents of Jamaica? Institutions that offer higher education can be found everywhere.

    Years ago, UWI and U-Tech were the only major universities in Jamaica however that has changed. We are seeing the region being invaded by offshore universities offering programmes at reduced cost and reduced entry requirements.

    Alluding to universities acting as businesses is plausible, much as we may not want to accept that it is, we ought to. The reality though is that some countries’ higher education institutions have made it a more productive business, ensuring educational opportunities are provided not just to their residents but also those of neighbouring countries at little to no cost. Students need to research those countries that offer free higher education and tap into these opportunities.

    The phrase that ‘every child can learn, every child must learn’ is open to interpretation, this policy about education did not stipulate you MUST learn in Jamaica (home country), in our case, or you MUST learn only in traditional areas. Students MUST start looking at the opportunities across international borders; FREE OPPORTUNITIES.


  4. Many Universities already offer on campus jobs to students. Anything worth having- is going to be at an expense. Especially an education which acts as a ‘playing field’ providing possibilities for the ‘proletariat’ to access the ‘bourgeoisie’ lifestyle. Historically, education was designed for the upper class only, today you find all classes of people striving towards higher education. Many companies and institutions offer grants, scholarships and bursaries to finance HE, however, is it that many students are ignorant of this? or is it that the demand far outweigh the supply?

    What does the future of higher education look like where tuition and other fees are concerned? – I really do not know, but what I do know is that this will continue to remain an issue just like- my analogy- AIDS and Cancer. However, if you can access or afford the medication coupled with a positive mindset or even alternative solutions you will live longer or get the cure you desire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shenzhem says:

      Lol, I was just replying to Joline saying, I think it will remain the same. Don’t see it changing for now, it will always be high so we should just what embrace it?? I guess so.


    2. realchez says:

      A lot of persons start university not knowing where the first dime is coming from. They are motivated and ambitious and get odd jobs to assist in financing their studies. I can remember a few well known persons who started as student assistants and have acquired their degree and are doing well. It is costly but is it worth it? Yes. We need to be creative and remove the box from our thinking. You know your financial limitations, there are jobs on the campus for students and this will assist in their fees. In addition, some persons get scholarship from churches and other organizations. Furthermore, a lot of persons owe Student Loans Bureau (SLB) and they have to be searching (unsuccessfully) to retrieve their monies. This would go a far way in benefitting someone else.


  5. Jolene Sterling says:

    Education is an investment and we unfortunately live in an economy that contributes to the constant rise in the cost of education. However, we find that many persons truly see it as a vehicle for attaining the many goals that they have set for themselves. However, the sad reality is that many never really reach their full potential as they spend their whole lives trying to pay for their education with the meager salaries that we end up getting at the end of the day.
    However, the fact of the matter is that universities like our own have to deal with the economic conditions of the day and have to deal with the increased cost of operation which have primarily been attributed to the rising salaries of faculty members and operational costs largely due to inefficiencies and wastage within the system.
    Just like governments universities should do more to reduce inefficiencies and wastage and should find ways of differentiating themselves and try to make education more affordable by introducing more cost effective methods such as offering more programs in other forms such as online or in virtual university settings. This could certainly assist in reducing the cost of education and could open it up so even more individuals who just do not see it as a viable option because the cost is so high.


    1. shenzhem says:

      Yes Joline, accurate much, many students spend many years paying off students loan not able to start their lives or able to be economy stable. And yes universities have expenses and if the introduce effective measures, such as minimizing waste, would save so much. Often times we write and suggest solutions and they are embedded in strategic plans but not executed and so we continue to wait on the day when tuition will be affordable and universities can meet their expenses. Truth is will this ever happen? AHHH

      Liked by 2 people

      1. realchez says:

        Do you think that the universties do not put things in place to reduce waste as a way of saving? Off course theyhave. They have done as much as htey can within reason. As a matter of fact to go a step further staff are well on board and have even taken a pay freeze from approximately 2008. In addition they have been several intitatives that align with their strategic plans – some short term and some long term.

        The government has been in dialogue trying to make the best of a difficult situation as according to Prime Minister Holness “…as it relates to student fees at the tertiary level, he assured that these will not be increased above the inflation rate. “We are not expecting the tertiary institutions to increase their fees above the inflation rate and where there are students experiencing difficulties, next week, when the Cabinet meets, we will be discussing a targeted approach to assisting those students who are having difficulties and who will be potentially de-registered from the institutions in which they are enrolled.” He further added that “the Government is very cognisant of the impact that the current recession is having on our students, but the situation is such that whatever we do, we have to take into consideration the bigger picture.”

        I am thinking there has been some heavy discussions and the student has alwyas been at the forefront of these discussions. However, we must be open-minded and practical that for a state-of-the-art university in a competitive setting, we have to pay. If I must use the UWI as an example – the library’s open hours used to be 8:30 to 4:30 and students, then it went to 10p.m and currently it is 24 hours well 22 hours to be exact as they close for 2 hours to clean and reshelf etc. This is so because of the needs of the students and a university have to remain competitive in what it is offering. While I think more can still be done I look at it this way… I would prefer to buy a Calvin Klien bag or shoes and get quality for my money even though it is quite pricey but will last for long time than buy a mediocre bag or shoes that serves a short.


  6. 620099589j says:

    Lotoya says: I am in total agreement that education is the key to success however; not everyone gets an equal opportunity to attend universities because of financial constraints. The high cost of tuition fee is not only affecting our country but it is happening world wide.” Only the cream of the crop will go through” that is, students from better socio economic background will have a better chance to attend a university while those from a poor background will always be left behind if they don’t get financial assistant. It is of my view that everyone must acquire a skill therefore; if they don’t get a chance to attend a university, they can use their skill to survive. We just have to face the reality that the cost of tuition is very high now and it is going to get even higher.


    1. shenzhem says:

      Yes Latoya, Jamaica is yet to get to that stage, economy cannot afford it, so I agree and believe that it will continue to increase, so those who want to attend will just have to embrace it. Others like you said, will have to gain skill.


  7. realchez says:

    Education is the way out for a lot of persons. Growing up it was repeated to me regularly that it was the way out of poverty and to this day I do believe it. However, things are different now. Sometime back you could have gotten a decent paying job with just subjects but now persons with a master’s degree may have to settle for a ‘mediocre’ job because of several reasons. As a result subjects are a thing of the past- a first degree is now like subjects and a masters is like a first degree while a Doctoral degree is like a masters.
    Saying all of this to say that no matter how expensive a university education is it is important to get one. Budgets have been cut, universities have to get creative to collect their monies and students find it difficult to pay. However, there are still students who get loans and do not honour their commitment to the university and as a result drastic measures have to be taken to collect as the university is not run without an over-head cost among others.
    Ten, fifteen years ago there was not so much infrastructure on the UWI campus and all of these implementations take money. When the university is unable to collect they are unable to honour their debts. The question begs however, where does that leave the student? In the Economist online in an article entitled ‘Future of Universities: the Online Degree’ it was stated that “universities have passed most of the rising cost to students” as the governments decides that they can no longer subsidise universities as open-handedly as they use. However, getting a better paid job always overcome any debt they would have acquired during their university years. So in the long term it is worth it to get that degree as pricy as it is. Universities invest highly in their libraries, graduate centres, technology and accommodation to remain competitive but to also attract students and sometimes to get the service at a university that is competitive it comes at a cost.
    On the other hand, Joyce, 24, a student at UWI says like many students her dream has always been to attend a university. But she knew her parents would have a challenge financially. Hence she applied for loans and grants and was determined to keep her grades up so she could
    get a scholarship. “I plan to make sacrifices for the three years to ensure that I graduate with honours as this would make it all worth it.” Sometimes it is as if her dream is far off she says but she reveals that she loves “the UWI” and I agree with her that it is expensive but worth it.


  8. My first question in response would be “Is education available and affordable to all?” Some students based on their socio-economic background are already hampered. As you indicated in your blog, even the student loan facility is a deterrent or later becomes an albatross in the lives of graduates because of the high tuition fees and the high interest rates. As much as the data shows increase in enrollment of students to UWI annually, there is really no significant increase. In addition to the minimal increases in enrollment, the true picture would be to compare the enrollment with the attrition rate and the graduation rate. In the same UWI statistical data cited it showed that while the number of enrollment in 2010/11 was 8817 students for Full-Time first degree enrollment, only 2485 students were graduating that same year. For the cohort that enrolled in 2010, if all had a three year degree only 2422 graduated in 2013 (there would of course have been some students doing 4 year degrees or would have rejoined from leave etc.) The point being made is that increase in enrollment does not give the full picture as so many of the nation’s qualified students are still not able to enroll or complete university. This is true for other universities such as University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) and others. In my experience teaching at UTech, the attrition rate is high for many degrees and even those with low or moderate attrition rates, the major reason is financial constraint.
    So then, what more can UWI or other higher institutions of learning do to cut costs to students? Are the tuition costs the best that can be offered? Or are payment plans as creative or facilitative as can be? I know that the point was made that education is now a business and I totally agree. However, if the universities are running as businesses, they cannot rely so much on the regular tuition to run the business. They have to do more towards earning funds from the resources available to them in addition to more efficient management of the funds. The suggestions about public-private partnerships, parents saving for education of their children, increases in grants and scholarships are all ventures I endorse. The recent uproar about the high cost of the new housing facilities built on the campus speaks to the additional cost burden that students have and cannot bear. What about lowering the cost of rental and opening up some of the spaces to students attending the neighbouring UTech, that has very limited accommodations for students?
    At the end of the day students have to consider if higher education is relevant and to what extent? Or does the cost of tuition equate to the award at the end of training? In other words, are the courses being offered by the higher learning institutions fully meeting the needs of the market? Will students be able to find or create jobs or if they do will those jobs allow them to repay their loans, recover from the expenses of studentship and still live a quality of life? One thing is true, students enroll because of Hope…they want to achieve and so a way must be found!


    1. verinica5 says:

      Veronica / verinica 5
      I suspect you must have heard the cliche’ The more things change the more they remain the same ” Remember higher education started elitist with the few who fulfilled the criterion. Barnett (1997) expounded on this in detail. He argued that university had its own private space where they had autonomy until the state took control of the university. When the state took control of higher education they used it to serve the state and to develop the society..

      The ultimate result was increased access as the government sought to make access more available to all irrespective of gender ,ethnicity class or social background (Trow, 2000) and (Scott, 2006).However with globalization and the resulting paradigm shift of the world into global market place a commercialization became the dominant philosophy,. the emphasis how to make profit. Everything became a business. This shift was aided by the growth and development of Information technology, the world wide web and free movement of good,services and people . An end product of this was the emergence of large conglomerate selling education and educational products such as test scores and a variety of products to ensure students’ performance was maximized.
      There was thus a thrust of private funding into higher education to replace the governments’ corresponding withdrawal from funding higher education(O E C D,2003) . Tuition fees are now an ever increasing deterrent to access. I saw one suggestion of students begging. Parents now have to plan and prepare from their children are born for their children education. The institution has cost to cover while trying to keep suitably qualified staff and an efficiently run faculty.

      The future of higher education is clear. Higher education is headed back to being elitist. Studies in certain careers will be out of the reach of certain class even if the student is “bright’ Unless the student is enterprising and determined and is prepared to seek free higher education where it may be available (even if it means going Sweden). The growth of ‘Degree Mills and bogus accreditation boards alongside the decreasing return from higher education doubtlessly questions the future of higher education.

      However higher education play an integral part in ensuring the reproduction of society and the growth and emergence of improved quality of life for all . The state may pull back funding and try to control quality through institutions but higher education for the sake of all stakeholders have to find a solution that allows for access while costs are met.


  9. It is hard to miss talk about the rising university costs these days. It is plastered in the newspapers, internet or every concerned citizen who desires to have access to higher education.

    I agree that university is definitely worth attending in order to enhance one’s socio economic status; especially living in a country like Jamaica where the standard of living is high moreover the constant depreciation of the Jamaican dollar against other foreign currencies. It is alarming that the fees are set to increase even higher. The obstacle of not being able to fund higher education remains a major challenge not just in Jamaica, but internationally. It is often said that university is not for everyone, but I personally believe that all should have the right to attend. It is preposterous to put financial obstacles in the way of potential young people and older adults not so fortunate. Many already thinking they cannot afford a university degree.

    Of a fact, there are institutions that students can access loans. But for how long are they willing to take on more and more debts? I am cognizant of the “Significant reduction in government funding”, where universities administrators are forced to resort to alternative measures. But in spite of this unfortunate dilemma, universities can do so much better to help to alleviate and make tuition fees more affordable, by making use of concessions afforded them.

    This blog is quite informative and well balanced Shenhaye. I like the fact that your research highlighted the local and international challenges as regards your topic. Your investigation is relevant and necessary to the stakeholders of the universities to review this concern at their soonest in order to help bright Jamaican future leaders who deserve the right to be educated at the tertiary level with little or no financial hindrances.


  10. i agree with the fact that education is the key. However, the idea that education is for the well to do is not necessarily the case. why? not every child was conceived deliberately, but should this stop them from getting the best educational services that there is to offer? i think not…. how do we fix this, first we should educate the masses on long term plans that will see to sustainable growth. one is through plan parenting; at the clinics personnel could derive a specific day to go in and speak to young mothers and fathers on the importance of planning for their children’s’ education and importantly provide efficient and cost effective means by which they can start to contribute to their children’s’ future education.

    A realistic short term step would be the government going to sixth forms and community colleges and offering students who are interested in reading for degrees in government fields and in fields that would directly benefit the country a sort of grant that would allow them to read for the degree at either 50% or full and in return the students would have to work back within the field of study for a stipulated time period as a means of giving back to the country.

    Our students as a colleague mentioned are already faced with debt and furthermore graduating with their names attached to a very long waiting list seeking employment.

    On the other hand Universities need cash too and it is therefore imperative for students to pay.Looking back at the University some ten years, does it look the same today? No… there are new infrastructures all across the landscape. Take for example the library now. They have upgraded the facility in such a way so as to make useful access available to all students. Yes i agree the school fees are high but the bottom line is we must pay.

    Begging is a good idea but how long can one beg for. A degree takes three years so even if you beg for a year two years is still remaining. You can beg so much and no more.


  11. elsaceline says:

    I respond by looking at the mantra that the Ministry of Education has adopted “every child can learn, every child must learn”. It is quite possible and arguable that none of us in higher education is a child and so the responsibility of the government is not to us. I am not saying that they do not see the benefit of higher education as a public good or quasi-public good but they have to, based on scarce resources, focus on the younger generation. The onus is therefore on us to pay the exorbitant fees that universities charge and will continue to charge.

    Now I am quite aware that we are all willing to pay our fees but as members of this economically marginalized society it is increasingly difficult for us to afford them. Shenzhem points out that regardless of the increasing costs the enrollment numbers has increased consistently. This is so because in the society that we live it has become increasingly necessary to demonstrate qualifications above secondary and even bachelors level. To enjoy a socio-economic status above poverty level and not be engaged in scamming it behoves us to have tertiary education.Well, surely I exaggerate but it certainly is a prerequisite to acquiring employment in certain professions or a position that puts you in a place to effect any meaningful change.

    All the suggestions that have been made by Shenzhem are excellent and it is my hope that these and others will be implemented and enforced by the government in a meaningful way. There are now a myriad of HEIs but students are still having a difficulty accessing this education due to high costs. This has to be addressed to ensure that every Jamaican can learn and every Jamaican must learn.


  12. judsbloggy says:

    It is worth it to go to university. Individuals attend university to gain high-level skills to get a job. The university was created so that countries can have a skilled labour force and be competitive in the world market in the global economy.
    A university student is a consumer. Student buy their education and consume it. So, it’s only right that the consumer pays for the goods they receive. It is for their greater good.
    However, majority of the consumers of higher education (the average student) will owe a substantial amount of tuition at the end of their studies. The debt that students incur, as the writer said, has sky rocketed and will continue to sky rocket in the coming years mainly because one could say these consumers are being saddled with debt. Is the debt and qualification worth it?
    University is a financial burden and a financial stress to some students. Those who are unwilling or unable to pay will have a negative effect on the contribution of the university. It takes money to sustain a university and with the government cutting grants to universities, student funding from tuition will be critical to its continued purpose.
    If students do not pay then universities will be in debt and as a result creditors, salaries and other essential functions will not be paid and funded. The university must find innovative ways to fund the institutions as the writer said.
    Debt hampers higher education.


  13. I have to agree with ELSACELINE that the statement “every child can learn, every child must learn” does not apply to any of us in higher education and I would dare say that it should not apply to anyone 18 and above that are enrolled in universities. By that age each person is an adult and it is equally important that persons at that age make decisions like an adult. Doing so would require them and their families to objectively plan the way forward to gaining a tertiary education. While Saunchez indicated that many persons start university without knowing where the first dime would come from and succeed, I must ask how many take the same approach and do not succeed and add the the high drop out rates mentioned above. Persons should take time to plan and assess circumstances carefully. That must include the thought of whether or not enrolling in UWI is necessary at that point in life or necessary at all. There are many alternative universities that are cheaper. Additionally, is it necessary to do face to face classes? Open campuses are proving to be a much cheaper option and give access to the same degree. And then one must consider whether or not gaining a university degree is the only way to obtain a tertiary education and become qualified. There are many certificates and alternative qualifications that help persons to earn a living and live a life that is good in quality just as any other. Tertiary Education certainly may help persons to obtain a better standard of living but it is not the only way. Many university drop outs who are successful are testimonies of this – they are now bosses and own businesses. Maybe what is needed is that while teaching university students to accept the responsibility of being adults and plan and make careful decisions, they should be taught how to become bosses instead of having one.


  14. wkeisha says:

    There are three responsible funding parties in the business of higher education – parents/self, government and the university itself. However, in the end, it all boils down to proper planning.

    Cost of living is high in Jamaica but how many parents plan for their children’s future? How many of them can? I know my parents did not make plans for me because we were a low-income family and so were their parents and grand-parents. It is a vicious cycle, which I have tried to break by seeking to become educated beyond the secondary level. I got employed at 17, right out of Business College. The prospect of easily finding work today is a daunting task for children at the age I was when I started working. Job opportunities are just not readily available. So, as parents or future parents, we need to cultivate the habit of saving and investment in ourselves and in our children, so that when the tertiary years come we are prepared.

    The cost of education continues to rise. Government subventions into tertiary education dwindles every day, so there will come a time when it may stop altogether. If our government cannot fund education, maybe they can seek to find ways to cap the expenses being incurred by universities through concessions or at the very least, curtail the activities of some public institutions. Why can education be free in some countries and not in others?

    The Government should seek to integrate programme offerings by Schools, remove duplication, and ‘do away with schools’ that are hanging on by a thread. For example, if one or two schools are specialists in certain areas, allow those HEI to focus on their areas and restrict others from partaking simply for monetary purposes (financial gain). With less schools, Government will have more money to go around.

    Believe it or not, universities have become businesses that happen to still be schools. With low subvention, they are struggling to keep their doors open, so must find innovative ways to do so. Tuition, I can tell you, does not cover much and in the case of UWI, there are still several programmes which are still subsidized by the government. However, universities have a financial responsibility to their students. They should endeavor where possible to seek funding to aid the bright and needy among the student populous. At my HEI, we have approached organizations in corporate Jamaica on behalf of our students, even without them knowing, for funding and scholarships. We have been very successful in helping a great many students. Maybe other colleges and universities can also try this approach.

    What is preventing us from finding doable solutions that will not break the backs of our children in years to come, I wonder?


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