Grant confusion for TT students at UWI Mona

Colm Imbert -
Colm Imbert -

FOR the second time, there has been a mix-up in the list of TT students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica which allows access to assistance grants from the Finance Ministry.

On April 29, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said grants of US$300 had been sent to the Mona campus and the Barbados campus in Cavehill for TT students. He made it clear scholarship recipients would not receive the grants. But students at Mona had told Newsday the list not only included those students' names, but also those who had already returned home.

Meanwhile, many students who were supposed to receive the grant did not. Imbert did not respond to calls or messages from Newsday on the issue on Thursday.

But on Tuesday morning, a member of the TT Students' Association (TTSA) executive committee told Newsday the issue was "rectified" and students would receive the funding this week.

On Wednesday, some students told Newsday they were finally able to receive funds.

One said, "I got an e-mail and I'm very grateful because it was starting to stress me out."

But many others still did not get the e-mail, and again, some students who already returned home received e-mails.

Second-year biochemistry student Jabari Haynes said students had been going “back and forth” with the university’s administration, which continually said, “…They have no control over what the TT Government does.

"I still don't understand the university's silence in this period and how I felt about their actions before, still remain. People still have not been added to the list. My friend who is in Trinidad got an e-mail and she is confused and can't get on to the office to tell them. How can a list be mixed up so many times?"

He said he was not impressed by anything the TTSA and the university had done thus far.

"UWI has not done us right and I am so tired of it. At least e-mail us to say something, not 'If you live off campus your name will not be added to the list of TT nationals in Jamaica.' How does that comfort anyone in this time of struggle?"

He said students had not been given any leniency when it came to hall fees, and still had to pay rent. Typically, once the semester is over, only students who plan to attend summer school remain at halls of residence and must pay a set fee which differs for each hall. He lives at the Elsa Leo-Rhynie Hall, commonly referred to as “Towers.” But he has since been staying with his cousin, who lives off campus.

“Traditional Halls (Rex Nettleford Hall, Taylor Hall, Chancellor Hall, Mary Seacole Hall) don’t have a month-to-month basis for payments. They’re charging for the entire summer period and so many of us still haven’t gotten the grant.

“The guild president sent an e-mail saying he doesn’t advise students to switch halls because some people were trying to move on to cheaper halls that had space. He said to stay put. And I find it doesn’t make sense because if you don’t pay per month at the halls that require it, you are gonna get kicked off immediately.

“I personally know someone I had to help because he struggling. He, like anyone else, didn’t budget for a pandemic. He doesn’t know where the plate of food is coming from."

Students say the association is trying to organise a list of students who wish to return home should the National Security Minister grant an exemption.

Asked about this, the executive member reminded students, “The TTSA doesn’t have a final say in the flight arrangements and we have been doing what we can do to assist in the process of rectifying the concerns of the students.”

That member returned to TT before its borders were closed.

Also, in an e-mail sent to Haynes, the university said, "Kindly note that UWI Mona has no jurisdiction as it relates to flight arrangements. The list that we have compiled will be shared with the government of TT who will then determine how best to undertake the repatriation of its nationals."

TT's High Commissioner to Jamaica Deryck Murray told Newsday he was "pleased to hear" more students were finally able to access their grants.

Final examinations at the university will take place online and begin on June 16, ending on July 1.


"Grant confusion for TT students at UWI Mona"

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