Categorized | National News

COBUS Ready for Protest

College of The Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS) President Ernesto Williams said the organisation is awaiting the go-ahead from the student population at the College of The Bahamas (COB) to put a demonstration in motion to protest proposed school fee hikes.

Mr. Williams said even though he is personally affected by the restructured school fees, as COBUS president he has to listen to the student body and do what it is that they want him to do.

“It’s not about me at the end of the day, it’s about the students,” he said. “If the students said they want to pay the money then I would have been sitting in my office finishing off work.

“At the end of the day it’s totally up to the students and if they say, ‘Let’s do this,’ COBUS would be out here with the student and we would be doing whatever needed to be done. What COBUS is going to do is to adhere to what our constituents, who are the students, say.”

COB officials have admitted that they are financially strapped and in an attempt to meet their financial challenges after the government announced plans to cut funding to the tertiary institution.

The college announced that its students will now have to face an increase in certain fees beginning as early as the fall 2013 semester.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “This came up really shady. It just came up on the desk of the council meeting last week Wednesday and reluctantly they agreed and outvoted me and the Union of Tertiary Educators of the Bahamas (UTEB) president.

“Of course students are not inclined to it, they feel as though the fees are disenfranchising them, they are unfair, they are unjust, but particularly it doesn’t equate to the conditions that are going on. To pay for parking where there is limited parking, to pay for library fess where the government already covers the bond for that, to pay for facilities that are supposed to be coming in the future where monies are already donated to that cause.”

At present, students pay fees of $150 added to their tuition, but at the start of the new semester the student population will have to pay a library fee of $50 dollars per semester, an increase in technology fees from $100 to $120 and a parking fee.

Full time students will have to pay $50 per semester while part-time students will have to pay $25, but only if they drive to school.

He said news of the new fees have even driven some students to tears.

“(A young lady) went to the cashier’s cage and last week she got a copy of her bill and another copy this week which shows the $120 increase in fees for fall 2013 and of course her scholarship doesn’t cover that.

“She had to call her mom crying asking where they were going to find the money now on such short notice. At COB when you register you have to pay your bill in seven days and she was just distraught, she was in tears.”

In addition to those fees, the college is introducing a capital facility development fee of $100, which is expected to take effect in January 2014.

“If the students say let’s do X, Y and Z and it’s respectful and diplomatic then let’s do it,” Mr. Williams added.

In a press statement sent out by the college on Monday, the college said as a result of tough economic times and the government’s recent announcement to cut subsidies to the college, administration, staff and students will have to make some sacrifices.

The college added that this is not an easy time for the college community and the college remains committed to making the educational experience of students one of the very best in the world while remaining affordable.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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