UCC Students Protest Against Hike In Tuition Fees

Entornointeligente.com /

  Some undergraduate students who attend the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) protested at the gate of the institution on Wednesday morning over a hike in tuition fees.   The placard-bearing students say the increase is too high.   The students told Radio Jamaica News that they were advised last week of a 55 per cent hike in fees in the new academic year.   Following complaints from the students, the university on Tuesday night revised the fees to 23 per cent for students choosing the hybrid modality and 15 per cent for online classes.   However, the students say only a 10 per cent hike will be accepted.    «When they sent that email last night about [minutes] to 8 about the revised tuition fee, we decided that that is not good enough because UCC knows what they’re doing. They have a lot of things in plan that is [sic] only benefitting them, and they want the extra fee. We cannot afford it and we’re out here today to tell them [it’s] either 10% or nothing,» said Iyelle Small, leader of the Alliance of the Student Body at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean.   The students are also calling for a fixed increase in fees for at least three years.   Another student leader, Serena Wizard, complained about the quality of education at UCC.    «Sometimes it is very poor and then at the end of the day grades aren’t released on time, so we can’t get to our grades… and then they want to raise up tuition for something that they are not producing. So if you want to raise something, produce and let us see what we’re paying for,» she demanded.     UCC President Professor Dennis Gayle has said the increase in tuition fees is necessary to continue funding the operations of the institution.   In a media release, Professor Gayle noted that the UCC does not receive government financial support and relies exclusively on tuition fees, which were last increased in 2017.   He said due to economic challenges from the pandemic, subsequent annual increases were delayed and scholarships of up to 50 per cent provided for students to offset some of the costs associated with their studies.   But according to Professor Gayle, the university cannot continue to absorb the additional costs.   In a subsequent interview, Associate Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs at UCC, Yvonne Dawkins, said in light of the increase in tuition fees, support systems are in place for students.   «So, returning students will not pay the full increase in September. In particular, students who are able to register ahead of the start of the increase are able to register at the current rate, and we also have additional discounts for students who register for more than one module. We know that some students will still find it difficult, and so we are putting in place more scholarships and we also have really generous payment plan arrangements at UCC,» she indicated.