Education Ministry addresses GATE concerns
The Ministry of Education is warning that the ‘status quo’ for the GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses) cannot be maintained.
In a release issued Monday, the Ministry said the result of low oil and gas prices and a retracting economy means adjustments are required.
“Policies governing the GATE programme have been carefully implemented after extensive consultation and review. The population is aware of the changing fortunes of the country and as such, adjustments are required in all sectors of the economy. Given the aforementioned current budgetary constraints (arising from the substantial fall in revenue due to plummeting oil and gas prices) the Government is of the view that the status quo in respect of GATE Programme cannot be maintained.”
The Ministry assured the public however that students whose household monthly income falls below $10,000 per month will still be given full funding.
Students whose monthly household income is above $10,000 per month but less than $30,000 per month will be eligible for 75 percent of tuition fees, while students whose household income is above $30,000 per month will be required to pay 50 percent of tuition fees.
Additionally, although the Ministry said means testing is optional, students who do not take part in means testing for new programmes beginning in August 2017 and beyond, will be required to pay 50 percent of their tuition fees.
Additionally, HELP (Higher Education Loan Programme) loans have been increased from $25,000 to $35,000 for students studying locally.
Government added that is has agreed to a “more holistic calculation of means by August 2018 taking into consideration other factors such as size of household and household assets”.
The Ministry added that only programmes and institutions accredited by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago will be eligible for funding under the GATE programme, and this policy has not yet been effected hence it cannot be said that ‘some public institutions are not accredited but access GATE funding’.
The Ministry added that it has spent a total of $6.3 billion in publicly funded tuition, including programmes involving Technical and Vocational Training, PhD studies, as well as national scholarships, HELP and the Financial Assistance (Studies) Programme (FASP).
“Many governments in both developed and developing countries have found it necessary over the last decade to reduce public funding of tertiary education due to constrained economic circumstances. Trinidad and Tobago is the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean which currently provides free tertiary level tuition support at the undergraduate level to all citizens," the Ministry said.