UWI Mona leads discourse on reforming financing for higher education
THE University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, took centre stage in a critical conversation addressing the financing of tertiary education in Jamaica, as it hosted a forum intending to chart a new path forward.
The event, held on October 11, 2023 and titled: Colloquium on Financing Tertiary Education, sought to identify feasible solutions to the persistent challenge of financing higher education in the country.
The colloquium attracted critical stakeholders from the Government, academia, the tertiary education sector, and the private sector. It aimed to produce a set of policy options for the Government and the tertiary sector which, if implemented, should reform the financing of higher education in Jamaica.
Principal of The UWI Mona, Professor Densil A Williams delivered the keynote address and emphasised the need for transformation in the sector.
He stated, “We have a situation where only two out of every 10 students who leave our secondary system move on to post-secondary education. In the developed world, nine out of every 10 people continue their post-secondary studies.”
He noted that finance is the major reason that prevents access to tertiary education. As such, he presented a number of options which can be considered. These include, but are not limited to, tertiary education tax, partnerships with private financial institutions to create a savings plan from birth to fund the student’s education, and an income-contingent loan scheme as a long-term solution.
Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams underscored the Government’s unwavering support for higher education, highlighting its significant contribution to national development. She stated, “The Government supports higher education because of its contribution to national development, evidenced by the 27 publicly funded higher education institutions.”
Williams also expressed the Government’s openness to exploring new funding models for higher education. “We are open to a funding model and creating this policy for higher education to streamline funding to our institutions,” she stated.
“The Government allocated approximately $20.6 billion to fund public institutions for the financial year 2022/23, which translates to approximately $406,000 per student. While this is substantial, we recognise that it may be inadequate so I welcome this high-level conversation to explore ways to change the trajectory,” Williams added.
Sir Hilary also expressed his desire to see the funding issue be resolved so as to increase access to tertiary education and unleash the creative potential of the youth to facilitate Jamaica’s growth.
The colloquium, a partnership between the Mona campus of The UWI and VM Group, brings thought leadership to the public on various national issues, to better inform policymaking.