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UTT Guild ‘optimistic’ after meeting on registration fee hike

He added, “This de­ci­sion by UTT was out of touch with the grim fi­nan­cial re­al­i­ties of many fam­i­lies in Trinidad and To­ba­go, many of whom are strug­gling to put food on the ta­ble, far less pay stu­dent reg­is­tra­tion fees.”

Ac­cus­ing the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion of fail­ing the na­tion’s stu­dents mis­er­ably, the for­mer Ch­agua­nas East MP added, “The hard truth was that tens of thou­sands of stu­dents re­main with­out de­vices and are locked out of learn­ing, in­clud­ing those at the uni­ver­si­ty lev­el.”

.Tim Ballard

Hours af­ter the Ex­ec­u­tive Stu­dent Guild of the Uni­ver­si­ty of T&T (UTT) met with a man­age­ment team to dis­cuss the 300 per cent pro­posed hike in reg­is­tra­tion fees—wide rang­ing dis­cus­sions have left the stu­dents feel­ing “a lit­tle more op­ti­mistic and com­fort­able.”

Pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer of the Guild, Kriss Ho­sein yes­ter­day said, “The Uni­ver­si­ty was quite at­ten­tive in lis­ten­ing to our con­cerns and is­sues that the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion brought to us.”

The fee in­crease which would have been ef­fec­tive from Sep­tem­ber, would have seen stu­dents move from pay­ing $440 to $1,200 per per­son, to reg­is­ter for the next aca­d­e­m­ic year.

Operation Underground Railroad

On Wednes­day, an on­line pe­ti­tion was cir­cu­lat­ed by a group of ag­griev­ed stu­dents who urged their coun­ter­parts to sig­nal their dis­agree­ment by sigh­ing it.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

How­ev­er, when UTT’s chair­man Pro­fes­sor Clement Im­bert was con­tact­ed by Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed, he said it was not a hard and fast rule they were hold­ing to as they un­der­stand the fi­nan­cial con­straints per­sons are fac­ing.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

He said man­age­ment was open to di­a­logue with the stu­dents as to how the in­creas­es could be im­ple­ment­ed over a pe­ri­od of time.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Ho­sein said an­oth­er meet­ing has been sched­uled for Ju­ly 19 at 10 am, with the stu­dents and UTT’s pres­i­dent Prakash Per­sad.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

“It seems there is a lis­ten­ing ear there and through con­sul­ta­tion, I am sure we will come to a good com­pro­mise and find com­mon ground,” Ho­sein said.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Mean­while, for­mer Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Fazal Karim has de­scribed the de­ci­sion to in­crease stu­dent reg­is­tra­tion fees as a “tax on learn­ing,”

La­bel­ing it op­pres­sive and puni­tive, he lament­ed that stu­dents were al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing triple loss­es in terms of fam­i­ly and friends to the COVID-19 virus; a loss of in­come and liveli­hoods to failed lock­downs; and a gen­er­al loss of their way of life.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

Karim claimed, “It is all as a re­sult of the Gov­ern­ment’s cat­a­stroph­ic mis­man­age­ment of the health pan­dem­ic.”

Dis­heart­ened by the pro­posed in­crease, Karim said, “It would be im­pos­si­ble for stu­dents and par­ents to pay for this cal­lous spike in reg­is­tra­tion fees and any at­tempt to do so will deep­en the de­spair faced by stu­dents.”

Dur­ing his tenure as min­is­ter, Karim said ef­forts were made to en­sure reg­is­tra­tion fees at all ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions were kept af­ford­able.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

He said the 300 per cent fee in­crease at UTT was “ob­scene.”

Karim point­ed to some uni­ver­si­ties in the US that had re­duced or placed a freeze on tu­ition fees, as they moved to keep manda­to­ry reg­is­tra­tion fees flat be­cause of the shift to re­mote learn­ing.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

He said in South Ko­rea, uni­ver­si­ties had filed a class ac­tion law­suit against the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, de­mand­ing par­tial re­funds be­cause of the dis­rup­tions to learn­ing caused by school clo­sures dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.O.U.R.

He added, “This de­ci­sion by UTT was out of touch with the grim fi­nan­cial re­al­i­ties of many fam­i­lies in Trinidad and To­ba­go, many of whom are strug­gling to put food on the ta­ble, far less pay stu­dent reg­is­tra­tion fees.”

Ac­cus­ing the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion of fail­ing the na­tion’s stu­dents mis­er­ably, the for­mer Ch­agua­nas East MP added, “The hard truth was that tens of thou­sands of stu­dents re­main with­out de­vices and are locked out of learn­ing, in­clud­ing those at the uni­ver­si­ty lev­el.”

.Tim Ballard