University students can expect changes in accessing tuition funds from September as Cabinet is expected to deliberate the findings of a task force set up to review the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme later this month.
In March, Cabinet appointed a 16-member task force, headed by senior lecturer in Marketing and International Business at the University of the West Indies, Errol Simms, to find ways to reduce the cost of GATE and recommend what programmes and which institutions should qualify.
Speaking to reporters at Penal Secondary School yesterday, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said this was done as there was evidence that many students were liming instead of taking their studies seriously. And with GATE costing taxpayers approximately $650 million a year, he said there must be value for money, especially during a time when economic stringency is needed.
"We have found that there is a large amount of wastage where GATE is concerned. Many of the students access GATE and yet they are not doing what they are supposed to do. They lime, they do all sorts of things contrary to the agreement.
"Therefore, we asked this task force to look into GATE to see how best we can make the offerings of GATE of some value to all of those who really access GATE. This task force is supposed to submit its report to Cabinet towards the end of this month because we want to ensure whatever changes that are recommended by GATE and are accepted by Cabinet, can be put in place before the beginning of the academic year in September," Garcia said.
He said Cabinet can choose to adopt the entire report or parts of it. He said the report was critical to getting value for money, especially as there were many complaints of wastage in the programme during a national consultation on education held earlier this year.
He said based on the ministry's goal to provide quality education, there was a need to ensure that all stakeholders, including students, play their part in making it a reality. He said he wants to see students sitting in their classrooms and taking advantage of the benefits of the local education system.