Lloyd: Free tuition at UB still coming
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday told The Nassau Guardian that the structure of the pledge for free tuition at the University of The Bahamas (UB) should be communicated in detail in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ next budget communication.
Lloyd was asked if tuition will still be free for all UB students given the announcement by UB that fees in the fall 2019 semester will increase for first-year, first-time UB students.
“The prime minister recently announced, and he’s done so more than once, that tuition at the University of The Bahamas, beginning fall 2019, will be free,” Lloyd said.
“Most recently in the House of Assembly, he announced that tuition will be free and that the details of that particular initiative, the tuition-free initiative, will be announced later.
“So, we await the announcement by the prime minister of exactly the formula and the form with which this tuition-free initiative will take.”
Lloyd said the university has been operating at a deficit for years and is now implementing solutions to shrink the deficit.
He added that the government’s plan for free education may not be at all affected by the fee increase.
“I would expect that the prime minister, during his budget communication, if not earlier, but certainly by the budget communication will be making these announcements,” Lloyd said.
“It is my expectation that it may be in that time frame, which as you know is approximately a month and a half away.”
President of the University of The Bahamas (UB) Dr. Rodney Smith yesterday formally announced that this fall the university will be moving forward with its 15 percent tuition increase for first-time, first-year students.
However, Smith did not address the specifics of the government’s free tuition initiative.
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 additional increases in a number of fees.
Currently, the estimated real cost of attendance, per student at UB is between $26,810 and $30,810 annually, according to the letter. The increase will raise the fees to between $29,180 and $33,780.
The letter states that the new tuition and fee structure will not affect currently enrolled students.
Yesterday, the university held a press conference to make a formal announcement of the tuition and fees increase.
During the press conference, Smith justified the increase by saying that the tuition at the university has remained unchanged for 20 years.
In June 2018, 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 specify who will receive free tuition.
When asked about the matter, Smith said, “What I would say about that is the university has been working very, very closely with the government over the past several months with regards to the tuition grant initiative and these increases were also calculated into all of those figures as well.”