Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2016 Contents A3
Thursday, August 11, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
STORIES BY ANNA-LISA PAUL
Students who have received fund-
ing under the Government Assis-
tance for Tuition Expenses (Gate)
programme and failed to complete
their course of study may soon be
tracked down and asked to repay
This was the word from the direc-
tor of the Ministry of Education's
Funding and Grants Administration
Department, Teresa Davidson, yes-
terday, as she noted they had received
approval from Cabinet for increased
financial and human resources to be
invested in order to restructure and
improve the department's operations.
Speaking at a press conference at
the ministry's St Clair head office,
Davidson said: "Going forward in
terms of trying to recover money,
we will have to look at ways to verify
the students in the database and their
She said the drive could soon
become a reality, noting that previ-
ously they were hampered by staffing
problems. The increase in staffing,
she said, would now allow them to
investigate cases of students who
had failed to meet their Gate con-
tractual obligations by passing courses
and initiate the fund recovery process.
Davidson said with the proposed
changes, "we can put someone to
work on it in terms of setting pro-
cedures on how that recovery can
"Within our database, we may
have paid for three years for a student
attending UWI but because we may
not have collected data that this per-
son has graduated, we are not sure."
Davidson pointed out that if stu-
dents did not meet performance
standards, they were required to
refund the money for the programme.
"We have been collecting money
from students over the years," she
She estimated that upwards of $70
million had so far been collected since
2006 and that the amounts collected
had increased yearly, with close to
$14 million collected last year.
She said students continued to
visit the department on a daily basis
to repay monies.
But she added: "That's one of the
problems that we have to monitor
right now. We can only monitor the
students who come back seeking
Gate. If you come back and try to
access Gate for another programme,
then we will not fund you if you
cannot show proof that you have
successfully completed the previous
"If, however, the students drop
out of their programmes and are no
longer in the system, they have no
immediate way of tracking them
and will now have to research the
Noting that funding was provided
to both public and private institu-
tions, Davidson said the latter were
subjected to audits to ensure stu-
dents met the stipulated require-
"If we find there are students who
did not meet the requirements, the
institution is billed and asked to
refund monies spent," Davidson said.
She said prior to the current
restructuring processes "Gate was
very, very open." She said one only
needed proof of T&T nationality as
there was no age limit.
But going forward she assured
that students would not be allowed
to abuse the programme, including
pursuing more than one course
"At this point in time, students
cannot be in more than one pro-
gramme," she added
On another issue, Davidson said
the question of obligatory service
for successful students who accessed
Gate was also something which was
still being worked out.
Education Minister Anthony Gar-
cia also provided a list of areas in
which Government had made sig-
nificant financial contributions to
education over the last five years.
Infrastructure: $2.7 billion.
Recurrent expenditure: $10.5 billion.
Gate: $3.2 billion.
HELP loans: $101,836 million.
Scholarships: $912 million.
Gate unit moves to streamline operations
Hunt for bad pay students
Education Minister Anthony
Garcia remains adamant that the
decisions taken in the past week
to restructure the Government
Assistance for Tuition Expenses
(Gate) programme were done in
the best interest of the public and
especially those students seeking
to access tertiary education.
Addressing reporters during a
media briefing at the Ministry of
Education, St Clair, yesterday, Garcia
said feedback from local and inter-
national quarters reflected "confi-
dence and agreement with respect
to the decisions taken by Govern-
Claiming that the National Parent
Teacher Association (NPTA) had yet
to endorse the findings and recom-
mendations put forward by the Gate
Task Force, Garcia said following a
meeting yesterday, they were gen-
erally satisfied with the decisions.
"This really tells us that what we
have done is really the right step we
have taken in terms of the Gate and
opportunities we have made avail-
able to students in their ability to
access tertiary education.
"There are some instances and
in some cases where the provisions
of the Gate must be adjusted
because of the economic realities
we now face and that principally
was the reason for the decisions
taken by Cabinet last week," he
Seeking to allay public fear that
the 25 per cent contribution by stu-
dents whose joint household income
exceeded $10,000 a month would
disenfranchise large numbers of stu-
dents from next year, Garcia pro-
vided a breakdown of the expected
cost as it related to the Faculty of
Humanities and Education, Faculty
of Social Sciences and the Faculty
He said a three-year programme
at Humanities and Education would
cost Government approximately
$36,000 which, when broken down,
was $12,000 a year. That, he said,
worked out to be $3,000 a year or
$250 a month for students who had
to pay 25 per cent.
At Social Sciences it would cost
$34,512, which translated into
$11,504 a year for Government and
$2,876 a year or $240 a month for
the student, while at Engineering it
would cost $39,912 or $13,304 a year
for Government), with $3,326 a year
or $278 a month for the student.
"In our view, that is not an inor-
dinate sum that students will be
asked to contribute to their tertiary
education," Garcia said.
He stressed that claims Govern-
ment was seeking to disenfranchise
students were "hollow and untrue."
He still noted that the decisions
were not cast in stone and "depend-
ing on our economic circumstances,
things can change."
Asked if Government would
reconsider the decision to stop fund-
ing people 50 years and over, Garcia
said it was not a discriminatory
On the move to pull funding for
medical students at the St. George's
University (SGU), Grenada, and how
that would affect University of the
West Indies faculties at St Augustine,
Mona and Cave Hill, Garcia said he
was due to meet with the principal
of the St Augustine Campus yes-
terday to discuss that among other
He said it was costing Govern-
ment three times as much to send
one medical student to SGU.
Executive director of Accreditation
Council of T&T (ACTT), Michael
Bradshaw, also said there were 12
fully accredited and 61 legally reg-
istered institutions in T&T.
Decisions in best interest of T&T---Garcia
University of the Southern Caribbean (USC).
College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts
of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT).
University of the West Indies (UWI).
University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).
Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business
Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative
St Andrew's Theological College (SATC).
Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism
Caribbean Nazarene College (CNC).
Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute
MIC Institute of Technology (MICIT).
West Indies School of Theology (WIST).
As at July 2016, there were 12 accredited
institutions; 53 registered institutions; nine
institutions pending final approval (signing of
documents); 230 locally developed programmes
approved; 22 individual transnational programmes
recognised; 12 foreign awarding bodies/institutions
offering individual transnational programmes and
14 local institutions delivering individual
Up to July 29, 2016, there were 19 foreign
awarding bodies and institutions recognised by the
ACTT; 496 transnational programmes offered by
foreign awarding bodies and institutions
recognised by the ACTT and 32 local institutions
delivering programmes in collaboration with
foreign awarding bodies and institutions.
LIST OF ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS AS AT JULY 2016
One student, who yesterday
admitted to still being financially
beholden to the Gate programme,
was a first-time law student.
The 35-year-old woman
successfully completed a two-year
certificate programme at the UWI
Open Campus more than five years
ago, following which she was
granted funding to pursue a
Diploma in Law.
After failing two exams, the
woman was told that she would
have to pay $5,000 to re-write the
two exams before she was allowed
to continue on in the programme.
Additionally, she was advised if
she was to pursue another course of
study she would have to repay the
outstanding sum to the
Government before being allowed to
apply for funding for other
The woman, who did not want to
be identified, admitted she was one
of the "bad pay" students who had
failed to honour the requirement to
repay the monies.
LAW STUDENT OWING
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