Criteria must be met for free BTVI tuition

BTVI President, Robert Robertson.

Not every student who applies to Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) will be afforded free tuition in the upcoming school year, according to BTVI President Dr. Robert Robertson.

In an interview with Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Dr. Robertson highlighted the fact that although BTVI will be offering free tuition for Bahamians, there are many students traveling from the Family Islands who will need financial assistance.

“We have many students who come particularly from the Family Islands and they need some extra help,” Dr. Robertson said.

“So, the free tuition doesn’t touch that at all, so we need some help in those areas.”

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, in a speech a few weeks ago, reiterated that full time students’ enrollment in the BTVI will receive free tuition beginning this September.

In response to the government’s announcement, Dr. Robertson told Eyewitness News yesterday, that “it’s a really good initiative.”

“Affordability is a big problem in education not only in the United States (U.S.) but also Canada and The Bahamas… so that (free tuition) takes away the issue of affordability,” according to Robertson.

Recently BTVI accepted a cheque for $1,500 from Rotary Club of Nassau Sunrise to aid the institute in its free tuition endeavour.

However, Dr. Robertson said that the technical and vocational school still needs to adhere to strict academic standards.

“They need to have students who are ready for college and institutions like ours. It’s not free without any conditions, they have to meet minimum entry conditions, which is important as it maintains the quality of the programme… that’s going to be a bit of a limiting factor,” he explained.

“Now, if people don’t meet those qualifications, we’re adding some bridging programs to help them so they can meet the qualifications to come in.”

As BTVI prepares for the upcoming fall semester and the ‘new’ free tuition program for new and returning students, Dr. Robertson added that administrators are “pushing for a registration period at the end of July for all of the students, existing and new.”

Additionally, Dr. Robertson told Eyewitness News that some areas of study have generated more interest than others.

“The most attractive program by virtue of numbers, are [mainly] business and Information Technology (IT),” he said.

Dr. Robertson also noted that there is a shortage of skills in some critical areas such as plumbing, electricity and plumbing.

“We do want to make sure we have students who will take the hard discipline, the skills discipline like – there are real needs for these professions in The Bahamas,” he said.