By Demion McTair. Updated 1:43 p.m., Friday May 15, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Vincentian students at universities abroad will each receive support of at least EC$1,500 from the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
For those specifically on student loans, up to EC$4,000 will be made available to each of them.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on Xtreme Radio on Friday (May 15), that for those on students loans, he asked the chairman of the National Student Loan Company, Mr. Stewart Haynes, “to extend loans and do some moratoriums and so on in relation to interest, to the students who are on student loans”.
“He (Mr. Haynes), had a Zoom meeting with them a few nights ago and he said, listen, we’ll give you up to $4,000 dollars” – he added.
For those on scholarships, grants and other arrangements from the government, Dr. Gonsalves said he asked the Chief Personnel Officer to find out from the students what their financial needs are. These include students who have to stay on campuses, such as those in Cuba, Russia and some in Jamaica.
He said “eighty-nine (89) students responded from across the three campuses” of the University of the West Indies (UWI), and provided varying figures of their needs.
“One or two persons said they would like EC$2,500, a couple said EC$2,000, some say $1,000 but most of them said $1,500 will satisfy them because they have to stay on and it’s a little more expensive because you are staying on longer” – Dr. Gonsalves said.
“So, I said well, give EC$1,500. If you see, the pot you have, if you can go to EC$1,700, that’s fine” – he added.
The prime minister said they are supposed to tell him today, finally.
He said the students will get the money whether or not they are staying or coming home.
“What they want to use that money for is their business, because there are some students who would prefer to stay and study. Some of them feeling already very isolated and they want to come home but when they come home, they have to have their home situation such that they can study seriously. Otherwise, they may find themselves slipping” – the prime minister says.
He says those who have opted to stay will get the $1,500 or $1,700 and those who decide to return home will still get the money.
Dr. Gonsalves said the money is not for repatriation but to help with the difficulties students are facing.
If 89 students receive EC$1,500 or EC$1,700 each, the bill for the government will be either EC$133,500, or EC$151,300.
The Prime Minister said there was a lot of uncertainty on the matter. He said the move to provide additional financial support to the students is a “mature judgement, having received all the facts”.
Listen to the Prime Minister’s full remarks on the issue here: