UWI gets tough - Hundreds of students deregistered over unpaid tuition fees
Approximately 800 new students of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, have been deregistered for failing to pay their tuition fee or arranging a payment scheme, and there are claims that more than twice that number of returning students have met the same fate.
The students were not allowed to sit their first set of exams for the academic year. Some of these mid-October exams account for up to 20 per cent of the students' final grade.
This massive deregistration exercise came as the university's administration, led by the recently appointed principal, Dale Webber, toughened its stance on the requirement for students to pay their tuition fees.
The UWI is insisting that the full fee for each semester be paid or students enter into a payment plan with the university.
In a response to queries from The Gleaner, the UWI said that some 2,000 students were warned about being deregistered on October 3 as their accounts with the university were in the red.
"By October 6, [roughly] 1,200 of the 2,000 students either cleared their balance or applied for a payment plan.
"Approximately 800 students were delisted as a result of them not making an arrangement with the campus on October 7 out of a total of approximately 6,000 new students," the university said.
But last week, a lecturer at the institution lamented the harshness of the scheme and charged that it was too inflexible.
"It's tough, I tell you. The university needs money and the students need to do their exams to even have a chance. So what do you do? I think it needs more flexibility because it's really tough out there," said the lecturer who asked not to be named.
"If you look at the majority of those coming to UWI, they are people who are barely making it financially in society. But the irony is that they are the cream of the crop," he added.
He noted that lecturers face the possibility of dismissal if they attempt to facilitate students whose accounts are in the red.
There was no word from the university on the number of returning students deregistered, but a Gleaner source claims that figure is much higher than the 800 returning students and could be as high as 15 per cent of the total population of 18,000.
According to the source, the university had to get tough on students as they were exploiting schemes which had been set up to allow them to sit exams even if their accounts were in the red.