THE father of a student enrolled at the TT Hotel and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) is accusing the school of holding his daughter and other students to ransom with new fees implemented near to the end of their programme.
Ricardo Blaize visited Newsday in an attempt to seek answers from the institution which has been hit by the removal of GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses) subsidies.
Blaize said students were told they must pay$2,000 to complete an "externship" programme abroad, despite plane tickets, accommodation and relevant permits having already been paid for.
“This (fee) was not mentioned in any contract previously. There is no way a student or parent was (previously) informed of such payment…All (her) school fees have been paid up to date,” said Blaize.
“My daughter is leaving the first week in August and you are now telling me and other parents if we don't have the $2,000, the student cannot travel?”
He explained that on June 7, a meeting was held at the school by management to inform students of a $2,750 fee that must be paid before they engage in the external internship programme. The students were told the fees are to cover marking of papers, monitoring and a new course attached to the programme.
After the students objected, they received an email from the school’s registrar Ingrid John which indicated that $750 from the $2,750 was for the new advanced course, which is not mandatory. However, they were told the $2,000 is needed to complete the externship programme.
“Spontaneously, the ending of last year, they approached the children for a meeting and only then told them the Government is removing GATE subsidies and the children have to pay TTHTI over $12,000 per student, because they (the school) hasn’t received money from GATE.
“The students were held at ransom from graduating or obtaining their certificates. They say because the Government owes them,” Blaize said.
“I myself, visited the registrar. (She said) we would not understand as parents what is taking place at these schools but they have no alternative to reach to this decision. And I said, this is unfair. There is no consultation. No one was notified in advance and you all just make this drastic decision, whereas students cannot graduate, they cannot obtain their certificate until you all receive this money.
“Yes, I understand the school needs its money, they have their bills but it’s the way they go about it. Holding these students to ransom.” Newsday contacted manager - student services Jala Bernard, who directed our queries to TTHTI CEO Brian Frontin. Frontin, however, is currently out of the country but promised to respond to the queries by today.