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Free Tuition Grades For University Are Revealed

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

IN a major policy shift beginning this fall, Bahamian students enrolled full-time at the University of Bahamas will be required to only maintain a 2.0 grade point average to receive free tuition and full financial coverage of their compulsory course fees.

Scholarship and grant programmes to UB have until now required students maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the new policy will increase accessibility to higher education for many. He also defended the policy from critics who believe the lowered GPA requirement removes an incentive for students to reach the desirable 3.0 GPA threshold.

After the Minnis administration announced its free tuition promise last year without providing details, observers struggled to differentiate the plan from the government’s longstanding policy of granting free tuition to students who qualify under the national bursary initiative, which was established in 1978. The bursary programme required students maintain a 3.0 GPA, however Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd previously noted it does not cover full costs of tuition.

That and similar scholarship and grant programmes––including nursing, education and student-athlete financial assistance programmes––will be consolidated under the new Bahamas Government Tertiary Education Grant Programme. The programme will cover tuition and all compulsory fees, including technology fees, student activity fees, library fees, course lab fees and the mandatory course external examination fee. However, only Bahamian citizens enrolled full-time at UB are eligible.

A UB advertisement published in The Tribune yesterday said: “Current UB students receiving the nursing and education grants, student athlete financial assistance and the national bursary as well as students commencing enrollment for Fall 2019 must all apply to be considered.”

In a press release, UB said the government “reserves the right to bond grant recipients in specific disciplines (ie teacher education, nurses training).”

Mr Turnquest told reporters the university’s analysis shows the programme will cost about $19 million.

“We’ve provided for that (in the budget),” he said. “We fully believe that is funded and that will be sustainable for the long term. The overall objective is to ensure tuition will be accessible to everybody and that finances do not become a hindrance to success for otherwise talented children.”

Addressing criticism that the GPA requirement is too low, he said: “We tend to sell people short, that because they come out of school maybe with an average GPA that that’s somehow going to hinder their success in university. I can tell you many circumstances where people who were discounted have gone on and caught fire because they’re now doing what they’re actually interested in in terms of major or career, they catch fire and become very successful. We are not in the business of trying to pull back or restrict anybody or discourage them from achieving their full potential so this is an investment in young people of this country and an investment in the future of this country. We need talented people and we need them from a wide and diverse spectrum of society.”

Mr Turnquest was speaking to the press on the sidelines of a Rotary Club of West Nassau meeting at Poop Deck on West Bay Street.

In a video addressing the programme, UB President Dr Rodney Smith said the programme does not cover non-instruction fees like the security deposit, application fees, add-and-drop fees and books. It does not cover repeated courses or courses taken in the summer except in extenuating circumstances sanctioned by the university.

Grant recipients must complete their course requirements within five years after starting their studies, he said, unless there are extenuating circumstances and the university grants an extension.

A UB press statement said: “Accommodation payments of $500 per person will also be given for the duration of the school year (August to April) to each student who meets the criteria. To qualify, students must have moved from another island of the Bahamas to undertake the course of study, or otherwise be (or have been) a ward of the state, in foster care, or in a children’s home; be enrolled full-time; be less than 25 years old at the time of enrolment; and agree to reside in university accommodation for the first full two years of study, provided that sufficient accommodation is available to house them. In these instances, the accommodation grants will be applied directly to their housing fees. However, if following the grace period for academic probation, a student fails to increase their GPA to the minimum 2.0, then the accommodation payments will cease.”

Editorial View - Page 4

Comments

joeblow 1 year, 3 months ago

If the GPA is lowered to 1.0, even more students would qualify and the FNM can get even more votes in the next election. No need to worry about lowering standards, because the bar is already on the ground!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

Better still, honest and hardworking taxpayers should be made by the Minnis-led FNM government to pay for all those students who get a failing grade and are allowed to remain enrolled at UOB notwithstanding the failing grade.

Even better still, why don't we all just allow Minnis and Turnquest to lower the bar to the point where they can put our money in their own personal bank accounts and spend it how they see fit for their own personal benefit. Go for it Minnis and Turnquest......just outright steal as you see fit from all of us honest and hard working taxpayers.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Comrade KP's deliberate dumbing down children's Colony of Out Islands, yes, no..........no wonder Brent just signed the work permits two Africans work alongside Carl Wilshire...........

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killemwitdakno 1 year, 3 months ago

That should be for a BTVI field. 3.0 for university.

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BahamaRed 1 year, 3 months ago

Yay... lower the bar after all the national grade average is a D.

Smh... at the very least a 2.5...but a 2.0 seriously.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

I support this move 100% and am saddened by the comments of my colleagues on here. FOR ONCE we see the government doing something to help the average Bahamian. This must be supported. It will give us a better educated population. When i say better, i mean better. Maybe not exemplary.
It almost seems like it's against the law to help Bahamians in this country. K.P. please keep up the good work in this regard.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

You obviously support big and costly government playing Robin Hood with our tax dollars as opposed to government policies conducive to the creation of well paying jobs in the private sector. Our current and past elected officials have greatly enriched themselves by preying upon those with your mindset. LMAO

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

It's only $19M. Small money bro. At least BAHAMIANS are getting it THIS time.

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concernedcitizen 1 year, 3 months ago

And you probably think that w Trump and the small governments deregulate republicans the deficit is going down.Trump is running trillion dollar deicitsf in a good economy .The last time the deficits were that high was when Bush had to do Tarp and Obama did the recovery act to stave off a depression .Percentages wise their hero Reagan added the most to the debt , but at least some of his tax cuts went to the middle and lower class and he broke the Russians by out spending them .All of Trumps tax cuts went to the wealthy and that baloney about tax cuts paying for themselves never happens.After getting out of the recession Obama was running 500 billion dollar deficits ,,Trump in a good economy is running trillion dollar deficits ,,look up in the last 70 years who put more on the U S tax ,,tax and spend democrats or cut taxes for the rich and spend republicans

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DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

It's just pathetic. How LOW will they go? Buncha dodos.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

Guess we finally found something we disagree on DDK. I think it is a very good thing. Bahamians getting an education that they cannot afford. Giving them a competitive edge to get some good jobs for a change. Unless someone can show evidence that there is a high percentage of Haitians in attendance at UB, or that the majority of students receiving these free tuition packages are from families that are FNM - then I see nothing wrong with it. Too many times Bahamians get the short end of the stick. This time, finally, they are getting something back for their VAT. Bear in mind that it is not just the students that are benefiting, but you and me are too - because these Bahamians will become good members of the workforce with good paying jobs and spend money here, helping the economy. Money circulating here, instead of being wired out.

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DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

Then we agree to disagree Mad One! I believe the education system is broken, and gets 'wusser' as the years go by without a single beacon of light at the end of the educational tunnel. Politicians and unionists over the last decades pay only lip service to the mounting problems (including the lack of educated educators and sub-standard facilities) that continue to plague the system which churns out masses of illiterate degenerates every June, to the detriment of those who actually wish to excel. A decent, non-corrupt, national lottery could effectively channel funds to the system, if only the leaders themselves would step up to the plate.

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thinkingbigin19 1 year, 3 months ago

You need to create incentives to do better than a 2.0! Scale it from 100% subsidized at 3.5 and scale it down from there so that the 2.0 may get a 75% subsidy. Stop rewarding mediocrity!!

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

Listen. The BGCSE is SCALED to be a D average. They are not publicising that they have an extra grade in there (E).
A B C D E F (G/U) SO D is in the middle. So average on normal distribution graph gets D. If they used same as in USA then our students would average at C. This is done specifically to disqualify many Bahamians from attending college in usa and canada so that the hotels have enough maids and waitresses and janitors. Now Minnis is trying to allow these students to enter into a better place of learning where they RECEIVE and education. But yall have been taught for so long that the only thing a Bahamian should receive free is a political party t-shirt - that this act of statesmanship just doesnt compute in your brains. Very sad.

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concernedcitizen 1 year, 3 months ago

@madhatter ..what you say makes no sense , the letter grades go with a numerical value you get on a test ie , an A equals btw 100 % and 87% ,,B is 87% to ,,and so on ,,its been a long time since I have been in school so I don,t remember the exact brackets and we have dumbed everything down ,,70% used to be a pass ,,I think now they have it down to 50%, so a lot of children have to get a very low numerical score to pull the average to a D.Truth be told we went to Bahamianization in education too fast , and when we couldn,t get enough college educated Bahamian teachers we made COB to produce them .,

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

How many of these politicians subject their children to UB????? ....... A few of them went to COB, but they do not even want their kids to go there now ......... SMH

BTW .......... KPT went to Prairie View, so he has no real sense of academic quality.

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