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Cob Proposes 'Ill Timed' 50 Per Cent Rise In Tuition Fees

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

A PROPOSAL to "substantially" increase tuition fees at the College of The Bahamas is on its way to Cabinet following an approval vote by the institution's Council earlier this week.

President of the Union of Tertiary Educators of the Bahamas (UTEB), Mark Humes, has confirmed to The Tribune that the College Council had passed a proposal geared towards increasing fees for the next fall semester.

According to reports the proposal will seek to increase tuition fees for lower level courses by 50 per cent and 33 per cent with respect to upper level courses.

Presently, lower level courses - courses taken by students in their freshman and sophomore years - are charged at a rate of $100 per credit.

The proposed increase would move that rate to $150 per credit, bringing the average cost for for a lower level course to $450 exclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT).

In terms those courses are taken by students in their junior and senior years - upper level courses - fees will reflect an increase from $150 per credit to $200 per credit.

The 33 per cent fee increase will move the average cost of an upper level course from $450 to $600. 

Mr Humes said that the "ill-timed" hike in fees was rejected at the council level by both his union and the College Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS). However, approving votes were put forward by all other member of COB's Council.

"Everyone is hurting," Mr Humes said. He understands that the College is having financial issues due to recent budget cuts in education but he said laying the burden at the feet of the students was not the best choice.

"We understand that at some point fees have to increase, particularly due to the institution's transition into university status. Despite that, we indicated that at this time, increasing fees would only hinder students currently registering for courses," he said.

"Students are still having a hard time adjusting to the addition of VAT charges to their bills and now to come back one semester later and implement another increase, it's just bad timing."

The Tribune spoke to a number of COB students, many of whom were shocked and distraught by the idea that their dreams of a tertiary level education may come at an even higher price.

A 24-year-old biochemistry senior said she was saddened by the reports of an increase, adding that despite being one semester away from graduating, she knows how difficult it is to secure funds for tuition.

"I feel bad, it is already hard for many of us," she said. "This will make it impossible for a lot of persons already struggling with tuition to remain in school. It was hard for me to reach this point."

One first-year education student said: "I am still adjusting to VAT on my bills, now you are adding more to that. All this means is that a college education is going to be out of the reach of a lot of students leaving high school. If that is the case, then it would be a complete slap in the face to education in the country.

"Every day you hear businesses calling for more skilled workers. The one place you should be able to go to improve your skills is being priced out of our reach."

A recent COB graduate returning to apply for a copy of her transcript said "any increase would be a disservice to everyone, there are still any no improvements in the quality of service delivered at COB. This is a disgrace. Everything is still the same but the fees are going up."

Last month College Council Chairman Alfred Sears said that there were no "immediate plans" to increase tuition fees as COB transitioned into a university.

However, at the time, Mr Sears said that the option was not "completely off the table", as officials must ensure salaries of faculty and staff remain competitive.

The college's transition process has been costed at around $16m. According to the Summary Budget Analysis of the 2014 fiscal year, COB earned a combined $20m in revenue through tuition, fees, sales and services.

Comments

duppyVAT 3 years, 7 months ago

COB is cheap by US, Canadian and British standards, but with only 17% of Bahamians obtaining a tertiary degree, we can almost bet that local enrolment will drop while the 10% of high school graduates who go overseas to study each year (most who can afford COB anyway) and usually do not come back will eventually lead to an even worsening situation with finding skilled workers in The Bahamas. The end result will be that there will be evn more work permits issued for the top tier specialist workers in our economy.

But why is COB cost going up and the place is not even 50% at typically HBCU level in infrastructure, programs and extracurricular activities????????? Dont even compare with Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica or University of Guyana etc.

You cant put lipstick on a pig and call it a queen

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully most of our young people attending or interested in attending COB come to appreciate that the proposed tuition hikes are just another manifestation of the failed policies of both the Ingraham-led FNM and Christie-led PLP governments. These young students need to make it known to their parents, greater family and friends that FNM and PLP candidates in the next general election should not be voted for under any circumstance and that constituencies must make every effort to identify and persuade honest competent individuals to run as a coalition of independent candidates in the next election. The present two-party system that has for years failed our country must be stamped out in order to end the political cronyism that has only a select greedy few sucking our country dry of financial resources that should be available for COB and many other necessary and worthy things were it not for all the corrupt political deals bleeding the Bahamian people to death.

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TheMadHatter 3 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely correct. But, VAT is here to teach Bahamians that free schools and clinics are not actually free, and that MONEY needs to stay in the country instead of being shipped out all the time with the money-gram etc methods.

They are learning slowly, but they are learning at least.

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YorickBrown 3 years, 7 months ago

Why not put the entire curriculum online and have persons from all over the world, especially within our region, apply to attend courses?

Instead of "taxing" local students even more, utilize the power of the internet and have an online component.

Online education for potential MILLIONS of persons around the world versus tens of thousands, with very little overhead comparatively. It would also assist persons from the family islands in attending courses more easily.

The amount of money they would generate would be outstanding.

It can be done.

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ispeakthetruth 3 years, 7 months ago

I agree. Online college programs generate big dollars for a lot of US universities...even some of the Ivy League colleges now offer online programs. General COB credits (meaning not specific to Bahamas such as religion, history, etc.) will be accepted at almost any U.S. University. Even with the increase, COB would still be a cheaper alternative for international students. The credits earned there would be evaluated, for less than $200, but results are usually favorable. This could be a marketable concept, and an alternative to raising fees on cash strapped Bahamians.

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Frosty 3 years, 7 months ago

They experimented with this, it was shot down. The reason that was given was that they did not want to pay instructors the same amount of money they would make teaching a regular class for an online class. With a new president it might just be the time to propose this again

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NewJersey 3 years, 7 months ago

The problem is that many colleges will not accept online degrees if you wish to go further. A prime example is Rutgers and Penn State. Also, if you wish to teach business, the MBA has to be AASCB certified. Right now, no online courses are so certified. As a former COB Asst Professor, I examined the possibility of doing my PhD online and decided against it.. Some countries also do not accept online degrees if you want a teaching job. Also, college builds social skills-online courses don't. As for cost- check out Phoenix and Strayer......not a lot of savings. Better would be to Skype lessons to students in the Family Islands...or put them on an archive system

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duppyVAT 3 years, 7 months ago

No need to holler over this ............... Perry and Sears knew what they were doing when they put old man Rodney Smith in charge of COB and paid him 400K per for 5 years ......... this is the natural outcome .................... with a D- still born UOB

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sansoucireader 3 years, 7 months ago

Reading this, I think Alfred Sears and the other decision makers @ COB are only interested in increasing fees to offer higher salaries etc. Seems like the financial situation of the students are the last thing they're thinking about. Are their children students there? My daughter is.

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TalRussell 3 years, 7 months ago

Comrades will that be an additional 7.5% VAT - and government loan interest charges - on top of a 50% increase in tuition fees? This begins to paint a picture contrary to the late Comrade Cecil Wallace Whitfield's progressive and easily accessible eduction for the masses brainchild. It just goes to show how much debt a whole new generation will be saddled with upon leaving college with as they start going about their careers and families. Why is it the government is in the business of earning interest from student loans, when it's an established fact that the 'bad loans of the politically connected' were contributing factors that had The Bank of Bahamas on the brink of bankruptcy?

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ispeakthetruth 3 years, 7 months ago

This D- average is even more of a reason to attract international students, online and on campus. If not, the acceptance standard would have to be lowered, so would the curriculum. This would in turn result in COB credits not being accepted internationally.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald really needs to do something about the appalling BGCSE results. The only solution in the past has been to lower the standards...we went from A levels, to O levels, to GCSEs...now what? Will BJCs become the new standard for graduates?

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duppyVAT 3 years, 7 months ago

It is now ............ the new high school diploma requires 4 BJC with D passes. Thats Fitzgerald's standard ........... and where does his children go to school?

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killemwitdakno 3 years, 7 months ago

I feel like there is a systematic agenda set in place to dumb down The Bahamas so that it's forced to become the most ideally located and most reasonably priced outsource sweatshop location.

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killemwitdakno 3 years, 7 months ago

With VAT and number houses , why the hell is cost of college going up. Florida's lotto sends any high achiver to school almost paid in full.

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moncurcool 3 years, 7 months ago

Amazing how we are taking education out to the hands of the masses. An educated population benefits a country more. However, if you can keep the masses uneducated, then you can keep them in slavery (don't need chains on your hands and feet to be a slave. You just have to have it in your mind.) Just to our south, Trinidad offers free college education to all Trinidadians (from Bachelors to Doctorate). When will the Bahamas come up to speed. We pay money to the university of the West Indies, and only select Bahamians can get in. Yet, persons in our southern neighbours get their education free. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!! We are being left behind fast.

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TalRussell 3 years, 7 months ago

Comrade Cecil Wallace-Whitfield would be grabbing his educational for the masses bullhorn, demanding to know, if the PLP cabinet's only answer is to increase tuition fees by 50%, only days after they criticized the education system for ‘socially promoting’ children who failed at every level, and who did not properly complete or graduate from high school, resuling in the nation ending up with "70-odd per cent of kids having no certification or evidence” of having completed school. If the PLP cabinet have publicly conceded that, at least” 50 per cent of Bahamalander's seeking to register with the Government’s jobs exchange program lack basic language and math skills, then pray tell me how hiking tuition fees beyond the affordability pockets of parents and young people will not significantly increase the already too many who can't educationally qualify for the work force paychecks? Comrades of Red Party, who will be the fresh one to step forth to be your new Cecil Wallace-Whitfield voice - behind the bull horn?

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by TalRussell

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Sickened 3 years, 7 months ago

This big increase just to pay one man (Rodney Smith) an outrageous salary? Sickening!!!

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bismark 3 years, 7 months ago

well there you go young people,if you are determined enough to want to get an education it is obvious you are not as dumb as the majority in this country who vote these crooked ,no good lousy lying politicians in every election,vote them suckers out and if the next administration isn't making any sense vote them out also and if we stand together it doesn't have to be five years of them sitting their backsides in parliament and just doing what they want,Education is the strength of a country ,but not to these pirates we have running this country,i say all young people,vote in your best interest,as for that President who was accused of plagarism,get rid of him he don't deserve that salary he is getting.

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TalRussell 3 years, 7 months ago

Comrades looks be the PLP cabinet done waved the white flag - cuz the tuition increase are not merely a proposal, it done happened at the 'University' of Bahamaland. I do have some serious 'University by 2015' questions ask this, 'leave the students behind' PLP cabinet but in due course. Has them sitting around that cabinet table, completely lost all their 'University' starry eyes marbles?

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Greentea 3 years, 7 months ago

COB cant run on fumes. It can't build from dust and Smithy can't make a dollar out of fifty cents. The government (both - by the way) has cut funding to COB, and among a host of things COB needs MONEY to grow and improve. And to Bahamians up and down spending money on online degrees- stop wasting your money. They are not worth the cost of the internet from cable bahamas. In this global system we are entering, they are not accredited, certified or valued and quite frankly I agree with that. College is more than just getting paper. Of you want - take a course on line, but when people look at you funny as you brag about your online, BA, MA or PhD- it is because it has little value. Many colleges and universities so gung ho on it these past years, are dialing back. I am not saying that you won't get a job- if someone likes you enough you are in- but don't think for a moment its because of your online MA-PhD and don't expect MA-PhD money. COB has many, many problems but it is still a deal- And yes I am a graduate.

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