TT students at UWI Mona ‘stressed and confused’ as they cannot access grants

Deryck Murray - Stephon Nicholas
Deryck Murray - Stephon Nicholas

SEVERAL TT nationals in Jamaica attending the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona are “stressed and confused” as they have been told they cannot access the assistance grant issued by the Finance Ministry.

On April 29, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said grants of US$300 were wire-transferred to the Campus Bursars at Mona and at the Cavehill campus in Barbados. He said these grants were to assist the students with purchasing food supplies during the covid19 pandemic.

“These grants will be distributed by UWI to the 184 TT students who are not on scholarship. Scholars have already received their regular allowances.”

But students at the Mona campus reached out to Newsday saying there are inaccuracies on the list of students who should be receiving these grants. It included the names of students who had already returned home and those who are scholarship recipients.

Some students received e-mails to visit the bursary to collect the money, while others had to visit to see if their names were on a physical list in the building.

The e-mail has the subject: Assistance – Government of TT and states, “We are pleased to inform you that the government of TT has sent $US300 to contribute towards your living expenses. The Jamaican equivalent is ready for pickup at the bursary cashier…Please provide the cashier representative with a valid form of identification.”

One recipient told Newsday all she was required to do was sign a document that had her name on it, and she was given a brown envelope with the money and allowed to leave.

But she said there was a lot of bickering from other students whose names were not on the list.

One final-year medical student believes the situation is unfair. She said even when they explain the issue to officials, they are told nothing else can be done.

“Why is the University holding on to the extra cash when there are students in need still on campus?

“I was extremely grateful when I heard that the government was sending money to students trapped in other countries during this pandemic. As we all know, life has not been the same for the past few months and us students have been taking a toll from it especially being away from our families.”

“I don’t know if the fault is here or at home. Everyone is calling the High Commissioner and he’s saying he’s still waiting on word from the government and he doesn’t know.

Another student said, “About half of us haven’t gotten any money and they aren’t doing anything about it. And I feel like if we don’t take it to the media, nothing would come out from it.”

One student who received the grant said there’s a lot of confusion within the process, with many being unsure where or who the bursary got the list of names from.

“It still have a lot of bacchanal surrounding this. People were wondering if the government only chose certain people to give the money to. All my friends’ names were on the list so I was happy for that,” she said.

She said she too heard about scholarship recipients’ names being on the list, and indicated that some may still be going to collect the grant despite pleads by the TT Students’ Association.

“Somebody who gets scholarship money said her money doesn’t come on time or at all sometimes. But they sent this money quick so I’m not sure what’s going on with that.”

Another student told Newsday she feels forgotten and like her patience is being “taken for granted.

“It has been over three weeks now and those of us who haven’t received any money still do not know why we didn’t receive and if we would ever receive any of the money.

“As a student, I have been dependent on my relatives in TT, and like most citizens who are not essential workers, the lock down has affected their ability to work. So at this point, my resources have been exhausted.”

Newsday attempted to contact Finance Minister Colm Imbert but all calls went unanswered.

But TT’s High Commissioner for Jamaica Deryck Murray said he has been hearing these complaints and the list is now being “cut down.

“It’s really about tightening up the communication between students and the university," Murray said. “When the list was issued, those discrepancies were recognised and they did an exercise trying to track down who is still in Jamaica and who is back home and who are the non-scholarship recipients.

“I know it is frustrating to the students particularly at this difficult time with covid19 and the uncertainty as to whether their names are on the list.”

Asked how long this process may take, Murray said that would be up to the university. But he said he hopes this is done soon.


"TT students at UWI Mona ‘stressed and confused’ as they cannot access grants"

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