UTEB left out of loop on tuition increases
Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) President Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson said yesterday that the union was not consulted about the increase in tuition and fees at the University of The Bahamas (UB).
On Saturday, UB announced via an email to faculty and students that effective fall 2019, the university will implement a 15 percent increase in tuition for all first-time, first-year enrolled students with increases in a number of fees.
In response, Issacs-Dotson said, “We were never consulted.
“We were quite surprised when we saw a statement that was sent out by the university in regard to the increase.
“Our concern is of course for the students who have to pay increased fees coming into the university just coming out of high school and the effect that it will have on, of course, their families… and them being able to afford to come to UB.
“Basically, we were very concerned.
“We will try to meet with the Student Government Association (SGA) but I would like to think that they were consulted about this and that they agreed, I don’t know.
“But I think it’s important that I give the president of the organization a call to find out how they as students, in particular, feel about the increase.
“Whether or not they were consulted about it and really, did they even agree.”
The letter released by UB states that tuition at the university has been unchanged for 20 years and fees paid by students accounted for only 20 percent of what it costs to attend UB.
This, according to the letter, has resulted in an increased dependency on government subventions to support minimal operational, educational and growth expenditures.
On December 14, 2016, the former Council of the College of The Bahamas (COB) and Transition Board of Trustees, approved tuition rate increases in the amounts of 20 percent for Fall 2017, 15 percent for Fall 2018 and 12 percent for Fall 2019, according to the letter. This would have amounted to a collective 47 percent over the three years, had these increases been enforced.
But UB’s Board of Trustees revoked the previously approved, phased-in tuition rates, and instead approved a revised tuition and fee structure, exclusively for first-time, first-year students, the letter explained.
Issacs-Dotson also expressed concern for Family Island students who often have difficulty finding housing and meeting living expenses in the capital. She said that she hopes for an improvement in future communications with stakeholders at the university, including the students.
In June 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis pledged that free tuition for full-time Bahamian students at UB will begin Fall 2019.
In his second 2019 national report last month, the prime minister reiterated the government’s pledge to provide free tuition to qualifying students attending UB.
However, he has yet to speak to the details.
Minnis also said Family Island students will receive a $500 per month living allowance to attend school in New Providence.
Issacs-Dotson said that she hopes for an improvement in future communications.
Representatives of UB could not be reached for comment up to press time.