Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that the government will provide a $500 housing grant for Family Island students attending The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) in New Providence.
“The question was posed to me that the students attending the University of The Bahamas (UB), those coming from the Family Islands looking for accommodation, are given or granted $500 to assist them with accommodation,” Minnis said while addressing students at BTVI.
“BTVI students [are] not given the same benefit. To be honest with you, when we had put the program together, that was an oversight. I’ve spoken with the financial secretary and I would ask your president to provide us with the numbers of students attending BTVI from the Family Islands so that they, too, can receive the same benefits as those from the University of The Bahamas.
“Now, let me get something straight with you, the $500 is not given for you to put in your pocket. [With] the $500, you are encouraged to live in family homes, etc., rental facilities and the $500 is given to the landlord to assist you with your accommodation.”
BTVI President Robert Robertson said 70 of BTVI’s 2,500 students are from the Family Islands.
While the housing grant may not be helpful to students immediately, Robertson said he believes “it will make an impact in the future”.
“I think people, families and children, make decisions earlier so they’re already here,” he said.
“They’ve already made the decision based on the fact that they were not eligible at BTVI and so next year it will make a big difference.”
Robertson also said BTVI has seen a 26 percent increase in student registration since the introduction of free tuition.
“Registrations are up a little bit this year because of the free tuition, probably about seven or eight percent this year,” he said.
“…You have to remember, last year we started free tuition a year ahead of UB. So, last [year’s] registrations were up around 18 percent, so in total, in the last two years, it’s about 26 percent.
“In Freeport, registrations were up 100 percent last year, so we’ve seen a significant increase.”
Robertson’s comments came after Minnis and Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd toured the BTVI campus.