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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 11, IWN — The Government owes the University of the West Indies EC$9.6 million.

The amounts is “roughly the same” as that owed when the Unity Labour Party came to office in March 2001, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Monday.

He was responding to a question submitted by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who was absent.

Gonsalves noted that the Vincentian population at the regional tertiary institution is four times the 2001 amount.

“The financing of university education has become a very expensive business,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, further said that Barbados owes the University 200 million Barbados dollars.

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The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines pays EC$7.5 million annually for scholarships and grants to UWI, through the Public Service Commission.

Further, the Ministry of Finance contributes EC$6.5 annually to UWI.

The Minister of Finance also has a contingent liability of $15 million, having stood security for economically disadvantaged student who took students loans of up to EC$140,000.

“Mr. Speaker, we are seeking, in important ways, to reduce the extent of our expenditure on university education by first assisting with the financing of a number of programmes online,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that the community college is offering several degree and associate degree programmes and that some students, including National Scholars, are opting to study medicine locally, thereby reducing the cost of their education.

Gonsalves further said that the Government is on track to meet its goal of one university graduate per household by 2025.