Letters to the Editor

Audit work and travel programmes before other students get ripped off

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Since the inception of the work and travel programme the resumption of classes is often delayed by many university students as they try to secure the last dime before returning home from the 'land of opportunity', the United States of America (USA). But while some would have gained a great deal this summer, there are those who are in great despair because they feel cheated.

Many students have come to discover that numerous local work and travel agencies have been charging exorbitant fees annually for this exchange programme. They are very subtle in how they craft the breakdown of fees, thus giving the impression that every cent is important. However, when students arrive at some of the sponsoring companies they notice a great disparity in the actual amount required.

One of the biggest scams had to do with the housing deposit. Some agencies required a US$600 down payment, which is supposed to be reimbursed at the end of your stay. However, when it was time to leave, there was a lot of inconsistent information as to the policy governing the reimbursement. Suddenly, a clean-up and maintenance charge was added. While this concept has some merit, it is an act of robbery to not refund any portion of the money at all.

It is really unfortunate that students who have the goodwill to work assiduously and honestly to finance their tertiary education are being cheated. It is an understatement that education in Jamaica is very costly; consequently, many students see the work and travel programmes as an opportunity to alleviate the financial pressure on themselves and their parents. Some go as far as taking out a loan to pay for the programme fees. It should not be that students are acquiring more debt in their quest to reduce same.

The respective agencies should be audited by the relevant government ministries and those caught engaging in these devious practices should be brought before the courts. The rights of our students ought to be protected. It is also of paramount importance that those students who are already interested in going on the programme next year be very vigilant when choosing an agency. Speaking with students who have already gone through this process would be an effective medium to generate pertinent information.

Rushane Smith

smith.rushane@yahoo.com

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