UB Students Say They Will Boycotts Registration Over Increased FeesTomorrow is orientation and registration for over 500 new students at the University of Belize. They will have to pay a $150.00 registration fee, because the government - which used to pay it - has been forced to discontinue the subsidy.
The University's Student Government says the new students will have to pay $550.00 dollars in registration fees - where current students only pay about $185.00. For months the student government has been making the rounds to say the imposition of the fee on new students is unacceptable. But nothing has happened - and tomorrow is registration day. Today the President of the Student Government along with a former president and a fellow president held a press conference to say they will resist the new fee:
"Each student will be paying almost $360 additional per semester, where can we find that money. Tomorrow we have new students coming in for orientation and registration. We are not registering; I am not registering. If the fees remain the same way i am not registering and I am urging students that the fees should not increase show solidarity - do not register."
"Everybody keeps asking the same question over and over; Hope if the Minister doesn't change, what are you going to do, what are you guys going to do? Don't worry, our actions you will see but we won't say it and we better keep it that way."
"If the government, I may not quote him directly but if the government who is the entire entity of a country, who has all the resources at hand cannot afford this increase to continue - how will it then be able for poor people who are making $175 per week to afford this increase."
"14% Unemployment rate in the country, almost 45% poverty rate in the country - what do you want more? Do you want to make everybody beg? We cannot go on the streets and start begging."
"We are not basically trying to in any way have a fight with the Minister of Education. We are basically appealing to his heart to his inner person to his conscience to do what is right for the people of this country - the students of this country."
"Hon. Faber, please, I am pleading to you; if I may use that: on behalf of the students. Remember what you promise; you said that the University of Belize deserves more. This is the time to show that you really care for the students."
"We have 4% of our population that is educated on the tertiary level and that is the lowest according to the United Nations report on education in 2008 in the entire region of the Caribbean and Central America."
"For every young person that is not allowed a fair opportunity to attain an education I hold you responsible and if you are tired of being held responsible then roll over and make space for someone who is more competent, determined, honest and hardworking."
Amadi says he has signed petitions from students. Again, returning students do not have to pay the new fee.
Government subsidy for UB comes to an end
Aside from the increase in rates hitting the business community, university students are also facing a fee increase. That has prompted action by the National Student Government of the University of Belize. Its President, Hope Amadi, told the media today that they are urging incoming students, preparing for enrolment during the second semester, to boycott registration. The boycott comes in light of a proposal by the Ministry of Education to terminate government subsidy to the university. The allowance began in 2006 to avoid a previous intended increase in student fees. That recommendation was directly opposed by the former UB student government led by Moses Sulph, forcing the ministry to absorb the increase. With the allocation ceased, an estimated five hundred and fifty new students will now have to bear the additional expenses. Today, during a press conference, members of Nation Builders, an organization primarily comprised of past and present students of UB, made their position clear – they will not be participating in the upcoming registration.
Hope Amadi, National President, UB Student Government
“Nobody is happy and I don’t think, even though you’re listening to me today, I don’t think you’ll be happy with what is going on at the campus. Fourteen percent unemployment rate in the country, almost forty-five percent poverty rate in the country, what do you want more? Do you want to make everybody beg? We cannot go on the street and start begging. As it is stated, the University of Belize is the last hope for those who are less privileged in the country. What do we mean by that? We are saying that the forty-five percent poverty rate, these are the group of people who go to the University of Belize and you still want more out of us. We have appealed to the government, we’ve asked the minister to think about his action and reconsider, amicably, to come up with ways that this problem could be resolved, but yet nothing is happening. If the subsidy is removed, if we are to pay the subsidy, each student will be paying additionally, almost three hundred and sixty dollars additionally per semester. Where can we find that money? We want that when you come in for Monday, registration starts tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll have new students coming in on Friday for orientation or registration. We are not registering. I am not registering. If the fees remain the same way I am not registering. I am urging students, I am urging the university students who think or who deem it necessary that the fees should not increase, show solidarity. Do not register. Let’s make the minister understand that we cannot pay the increase.”