All citizens will have an equal opportunity to access all Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate)-funded programmes. So said interim chairman of the Gate Standing Committee Michael Dowlath yesterday. He made the statement as he addressed the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) response to the 2012/2013 budget forum at the South Campus of the National Academy of Performing Arts, Todd Street, San Fernando. “Have no fear about Gate funding,” Dowlath assured.
He told the audience there appeared to be some “misrepresentation of this misnomer” as it relates to Gate funding. He assured that “means testing will not be used to determine eligibility of Gate funding. And I stress not be used as a mechanism to determine applicants' eligibility for Gate funding.” Dowlath was one of several panellists. Others included UTT lecturers, economist Edward Bahaw, Prof Winston Suite, Vivian Rambarath-Parasram, Dr Stephen Joseph, Dr Alison Williams, Dr Rohanie Maharaj and UTT chairman Curtis R Manchoon. The moderator was Prof Selwyn Ryan.
Dowlath said the intention was to implement the use of Grade Point Averages (GPA) as a mechanism to control abuse of the funding mechanism. He said maintaining an institution’s minimum GPA to access Gate was not a new criterion, since it was part of the requirements for funding since 2006. However, he admitted: “This policy has not been adhered to for the most part by the public institutions.” Last year, he said, public institutions were advised that effective January 2012, students who did not meet the minimum GPA of their institution would not be eligible for continued funding.
He assured that the Gate policies, established in 2006 and in 2008, had not changed in the fiscal package for 2012/2013. Dowlath said the committee implemented a “no repeaters” rule under Gate programme. That meant, he said, once a student failed a course he or she would have to pay to repeat it. “This will prompt students to do their best. Government will not fund non-performers,” he added. Dowlath explained that Gate funding for the pre-medical year three at St George’s University, Grenada would end in September 2013.
He added: “This programme is not a terminal programme. That is to say, a student will complete this programme and acquire no qualifications for it. It is only an access or bridging programme. “This category of programmes are not funded in Trinidad and Tobago. Similar programmes exist at UTT and Costaatt.” Dowlath assured that all programmes of study that were currently Gate-approved at regional institutions would continue to receive funding. However, he said, Gate clearance had been implemented at all public and private institutions. Previously only private institutions required Gate clearance.