Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 28th 2018 Contents Sunday, January 28, 2018
Private institutions evolve to survive Gate cuts
Tertiary level education has
been one of the victims of the
deep recession that the coun-
try is experiencing.
The cuts to the system, according
to one commentator, are proving to
be as painful as a root canal during
a dental procedure.
There have been protests at the
University of Trinidad and Tobago
(UTT) over expected job cuts and
cut backs in general in the amount
of money spent by the Ministry of
Former Tertiary Education Minis-
ter Fazal Karim expressed concern
over the fall in student enrolment at
the College of Science, Technolo y
and Applied Arts of TT (COSTAATT).
Karim, in a statement last week
said changes to the Government As-
sistance for Tuition Expenses pro-
gramme (GATE) by the Government
was being reflected in "low student
numbers across all tertiary institu-
He claimed that enrolment at the
institution had exceeded 11,000 stu-
dents under the People's Partner-
ship Administration, while changes
to the programme has caused stu-
dent numbers to drop by at least 30
to 40 per cent. Several private insti-
tutions that offer courses that have
been affected by adjustments to the
Gate program spoke to Sunday Busi-
ness on how they are coping.
Aruna Maharaj, Director, Madam Maha-
raj School of Cosmetolo y told Sunday
Business that the school may be clos-
ing down in the future as a result of the fall in
"I would say that there has been a fall in
half of the students applying to study."
They offer an internationally accredited
diploma in cosmetolo y.
With two locations, one in San Fernando
and another in Woodbrook, Maharaj said the
total number of students is 35.
She said the situation was so bad that she
will not be taking a salary this month as the
owner and director of the business.
"It is simple, we do not have enough busi-
She went on to say that the Ministry of Ed-
ucation is still owing the school money for
students that they have already trained.
"We still have claims on the inside and it
may not be much for a large business but for
a small business that money is very impor-
tant to us. The money that they are owing us
is for students who have already been edu-
cated and certi ied. We have not been paid
Commenting on the outlook for the near
term Maharaj said, "We intend to hold on for
one year and if things don't start to pick up
we will have to close down. It's that bad."
Speaking to Sunday Business on
the impact of the changes to
the Gate programme, Ravi Ra-
goonath, Academic Director of CTS
College in Chaguanas, intimated
that there were several positive
changes as well as some negative as-
pects of the removal of Gate funding
from Accreditation Council of T&T
(ACTT) registered institutions.
Prior to the revised Gate policy,
the institution had seen an increase
in the number of students who were
declined Gate clearance.
He said while the percentage of
students who were declined fund-
ing varied from one programme to
another, the institution estimates
that roughly 65% of its students re-
ceived Gate funding.
He added the institution already
had measures in place to assist stu-
dents who were not Gate funded.
These include discounted fees
and flexible payment plans.
Since the new policy has been in
place, he said the school noticed a
slight increase in enrolment in some
of the programmes when compared
to the corresponding period in the
previous academic year. One such
programme which has shown a
positive change in enrolment is the
Association of Business Executives
(ABE) Business Management pro-
Ragoonath cited a competitive
pricing strate y and outstanding
student support services as some
of the factors that have buffered the
impact of the removal of Gate fund-
ing.He said while the number of stu-
dents enrolling at the institution has
subtly increased, the College has in-
dicated that there was an overall dip
in revenues owing to the measures
put in place to support the students
who are no longer Gate funded.
He pointed out that the institu-
tion has also streamlined some of
its services to lower its operating
In spite of some of the measures
put in place to assist students, the
Academic Director noted that a
fairly high number of students are
still unable to complete the pay-
ment of their fees by the end of the
Despite the challenges in the
industry, he recognises the fact
that people are always seeking to
improve their lives by investing in
their education, therefore there will
always be a need for CTS College to
provide recognised and accredited
According to Mr Ragoonath,
"Institutions can continue to exist
but they may have to change their
model to be pro itable. They may
have to make sacri ices and be
more strategic in terms of how they
He remains optimistic about the
future of the industry and educa-
tion in general.
Ann-Marina White, Executive Director, Sital
College in Tacarigua told Sunday Business
that changes to Gate have "impacted on the
"Our students have been very dependent on Gate
as we are based along the East-West corridor. There
has been a drop in terms of students who would
have applied for Gate funded programmes like the
diplomas, bachelors and masters degrees."
Sital College offers from certi icate right up to irst
degrees and post-graduate degrees as well as corpo-
She said what they have seen is an increase in the
number of persons applying for short courses that
are preparing people for speci ic jobs.
"I think people are looking at their budget as the
Gate funding would have been at the higher end and
more expensive. So people have actually begun to
get use to the idea to pay for their education and as
a result they were initially more put off by the more
expensive programs but they are coming in to do
the shorter programmes as the cost is lower."
She also said that they are providing good pay-
ment options for students.
"In this way they do not feel the pinch. We work
with students individual budget."
Based on this, she expects to see an increase in
students who will be pushing their MBA's and irst
She said for them education is more than a busi-
"I think we will continue to do well partly as we
will focus on high quality experiences for the stu-
dents. We are engaging education specialists in our
school, who have worked with universities both
locally and abroad. We have looked at ways to im-
prove our pass rates by training our lecturers."
MORE THAN A BUSINESS
--- Ravi Ragoonath, Academic Director of CTS College ---
Institutions can continue to exist but they may have to change
their model to be profitable. They may have to make sacrifices
and be more strategic in terms of how they operate.
Ann-Marina White, Executive Director, Sital College
Ravi Ragoonath, Academic Director of CTS College
Aruna Maharaj, Director,
Madam Maharaj School of Cosmetology
current events SB3
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