UWI education too costly, Montserrat looks to Canada


University education in the Caribbean is now extremely expensive and some regional governments are understood to be looking towards foreign institutions to provide their students with post-secondary education which might be less costly.

While on a six-day visit to Ontario this week, Montserrat’s Chief Minister Reuben Meade met with Carleton University officials to discuss ways in which students in his British Overseas territory might be able to access more cost-effective tertiary education at the Ottawa-based comprehensive university.

Meade told Share it currently costs his government close to Can $12,000 a semester (tuition is not included) for a student to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI). Caribbean governments subsidise the cost for their students to enrol in the regional university.

“The UWI is still the institution of preference for us, but we recognize that it has to ensure that it meets the challenges of the region,” said Meade who was in Toronto last weekend for the Montserrat Association of Toronto’s 35th anniversary gala. “It’s very expensive to attend the UWI when you compare the cost with some off-shore universities and we are looking to broaden the scope of opportunities for our nationals. When we do a comparative analysis, we recognize that the cost of attending some overseas universities is cheaper.”

Montserrat has the smallest population in the Caribbean with nearly 5,000 residents living in the north of the island.

In 1995, the island’s dormant Soufriere Hills volcano erupted with deadly force, killing 20 people and burying the island’s capital – Plymouth — in the south. The island’s population was reduced from 12,000 to about 2,500 in the aftermath of the eruption with many residents fleeing to neighbouring Caribbean islands, England and North America.

Last February, a partial collapse of the lava dome sent a column of ash almost 20,000 feet into the air, forcing flight disruptions in and out of Antigua, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St.Kitts/Nevis, St. Maarten and Anguilla.

Meade estimates it will take many years before Plymouth is re-occupied.

“It will not happen in my lifetime or that of my grandchildren and they are only five years old,” he said. “It’s too recent an activity to risk any investment. We will use it as a tourist attraction and we plan to install a visitors’ interpretation centre where people can see what Plymouth was like before, during and after the eruption.”

Several long-serving members of the local Montserrat Association of Toronto were recognized for their significant contributions over the last three decades at last Saturday’s celebratory event. They included James Meade, Bernadette Boodie, Izora Riley, Alfreda Modeste, Clara Neequaye, Susannah Bradshaw, Franklin White, Rosemary Irish and Annette Paul.

Bursaries established by health care professional and educator Mary Glavassevich were also presented to Brian Lynch and Colvert Paul.

Lynch, an Ontario scholar and Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate graduate, is enrolled in Queen’s University Life Sciences program. He’s also a Royal Conservatory of Music associate who holds a Piano Performance diploma.

Last December, Paul graduated with a Business Administration diploma from Humber College. He will enrol in York University’s Bachelor of Human Resources program in September.



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