Sunday 25 October, 2020

TTHTI blames government as students face no graduation in January

The Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute has sought to address the concerns of some students who have expressed fear that they may not be allowed to graduate come January if they don’t pay their outstanding tuition fees.

On Tuesday, students met with the institute and received letters informing them that their certificates would be withheld until they are financially cleared.

In response to questions from LoopTT, TTHTI CEO Brian Frontin said that there are over 130 prospective graduands who have outstanding liabilities to the institution.

Frontin explained that TTHTI has made several requests to the Funding and Grants Administration Division of the Ministry of Education on behalf of students.

However, he noted that these requests have been ignored by the Ministry.

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The TTHTI CEO further added that the course of study for Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) funded students was paid thus far by the TTHTI and not by the government.

However, Frontin said that despite acting in good faith and doing its part by providing upfront funding for the students, which included paying staff on time, as well as providing all required supporting resources for students, the TTHTI has not received the relevant reimbursements on behalf of these students to date.

“It is not only students that have felt the pain caused by the Government’s refusal to pay through the GATE programme but the TTHTI has also suffered great losses and continues to suffer as Government has also refused to pay the TTHTI’s allocated subvention payments to the severe prejudice of the Institute, its employees and its students,” the TTHTI CEO noted.

He added that the TTHTI empathises with all prospective graduands and joins in their condemnation of the Ministry of Education for what he described as the apparent reneging of Government’s contractual obligations in failing to remit the amounts that the Funding and Grants Administration Division approved.

“We welcome and continue to engage in meaningful conversations with the students directly to understand their unique circumstances with a view towards reaching pragmatic solutions towards being cleared to graduate. The Registrar has indicated that depending on these respective conversations, it may be possible to include more students in the graduation ceremony,” Frontin added.

Speaking with LoopTT, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he is aware of the situation but that it was a matter between the TTHTI and the students.

He added that the Board does not operate under the guidance of the Ministry.

The frustrated students say they’ve been caught in a crossfire between the TTHTI and the Ministry and is calling on the relevant authorities to act immediately.

One student who did not wish to be named told LoopTT that they feel as though they are being bullied over something they have no control over.

“The school’s Director, Mr. Frontin is blaming the government for the situation. We have the Minister of Education saying it’s the Board’s responsibility. The students are targeted and bullied. Caught in crossfire!”

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