Uptick in student enrollment at UB attributed to free tuition program

Uptick in student enrollment at UB attributed to free tuition program
Richae Sturrup, a new Culinary Arts program student at UB.

New and returning students who received grants thank govt.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Richae Sturrup, a new Culinary Arts student at the University of The Bahamas (UB) is among the hundreds of new students who received tertiary education grants offered by the Minnis administration.

Sturrup told Eyewitness News Online said the government grant helped to ease the financial burden her relatives would have had to bear.

“It is very exciting and I appreciate it so much,” she said at UB’s campus yesterday.

“It has given me the opportunity to further my education and my parents don’t have to worry about a large sum of money.”

Meanwhile, Christian Sealy, a returning student at UB, said the free tuition program is a “big blessing”.

“We really appreciate it,” Sealy shared.

“My tuition was over $2,000 and I only ended up having to pay a little over $100, so it’s really good.”

While officials at the University of The Bahamas (UB) have yet to complete tallying the number of new and returning students, preliminary numbers indicate that government’s tertiary grant program has led to a significant uptick in student enrollment, according to UB President Dr. Rodney Smith.

The university is expected to complete compiling the data in three weeks.

“We’ve seen an increase in enrollment in Grand Bahama, as well as here in Nassau,” Smith said.

“Usually we bring in about 1,200 students for the Freshman year. This year we brought in over 1,500 students and we are still counting.

“Ninety to 95 per cent of incoming class are government tertiary grant recipients.”

Smith, who spoke to reporters following Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’s tour of the university, said approximately 3,000 continuing students registered for the grant since July 1.

As a part of the tour, Minnis viewed infrastructural upgrades on the compound and spoke to a number of new students, some of whom were grant recipients.

“It was interesting to see the number of students who are taking advantage of the free tuition,” Minnis said.

“I went to one particular class and all of the students there had taken advantage of it.”

Minnis noted that the tertiary grant program has provided hundreds of UB students with access to funding that had enabled them to transition from part-time students to full-time.

“If you review the university’s data, previously many of the students were part-time but now most of the students are full-time, which means that there were many who could not afford it, but they are happy that we brought the GPA [criteria] down, which gives everyone an opportunity,” the prime minister said.

Smith shared the sentiment.

“Most of our students are actually on the government tertiary grant and so the students were able to thank him (the prime minister) for making this happen for so many people,” the president said.

Government broadened the criteria for Bahamians who wish to access the tertiary grant.

For example, the GPA requirement was lowered to 2.0.

“Individuals who know that they have certain deficits work extremely hard to overcome that deficit and you find that they’re usually go-getters who are focused,” the prime minister said.

“In many instances those individuals are determined and the ones who become leaders within their communities.

“They don’t take anything for granted and through that hard work it teaches them discipline and they carry that degree of discipline with them into their adult life.”


About Theo Sealy

Theo Sealy is an award-winning journalist who serves as senior broadcast reporter and weekend TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. He has achieved several career milestones, including his work as a field contributor with CNN, his coverage of four consecutive general elections, his production of several docuseries and his Bahamas Press Club Awards win for “Best Television News Story” in 2018.