Students assured of funding for higher education – PM
All students who meet the required standard for the award of a government scholarship will be funded to pursue higher education.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Dr Gonsalves reassured students of this during a ceremony at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) at Villa.
“We don’t set limits on the number of scholarships you can get. The limits are what you set for yourself. We have standards and if 50 meet the standards then, 50 will get national scholarships,” Gonsalves stressed while adding that this government takes the responsibility to educate its citizens seriously.
He revealed that annually, the government pays the University of the West Indies (UWI) upwards of EC$5 million, and scholarships, bursaries and grants cost over $7 million annually.
“And then other forms of assistance for students are also available,” said the Prime Minister who noted that before the Unity Labour Party (ULP) came to power, between two and three students were given island scholarships while a fourth student was given in “peculiar circumstances” at least once.
He said his government now funds students with national exhibition scholarships, bursaries, tuition scholarships and awards.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the disadvantaged student loan program which he says has positively impacted hundreds of students who borrowed over EC$90 million between 2002 and now.
However, Gonsalves is urging persons who have not been repaying their loans to do as the 20 per cent delinquency rate needs to be addressed.
“We are looking to round them up and make them pay because the repayments would mean the fund would be larger to revolve for others, but I am not going to stop a program where 80 per cent are making payments and 20 per cent are not,” said the Prime Minister.
He said this country’s tuition scholarships cost the government a lot money and our students are envied abroad, when other students see the way Vincentians are dealt with by their government.
“We treat them good and they must not take it for granted. Your principal obligation is to excel at your studies,” the Prime Minister advised students.