Government steps up to fund full-flight scholarships for UWI med students

Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda (second right), addresses a press conference at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Council Room on Thursday (September 5). From left are Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Dr. Tomlin Paul; Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UWI, Mona, Professor Dale Webber and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. (Photo: Donald De La Haye, JIS)

The Government has provided 47 full-tuition scholarships to needy students who started their Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degrees at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, this semester.

The awards are valued at $177.66 million per annum over the next five years.

“This cohort will be funded for the full five years of the programme, providing they meet established criteria…” Minister Samuda explained.

Minister of Education Karl Samuda, who made the announcement at a press conference in the UWI Council Room on Thursday, September 5, said that the support came out of recent discussions with university officials.

“Applicants must be Jamaican nationals. Only applicants with matriculation qualifications in the 97 percentile will be considered,” he added.

Samuda noted that beneficiaries are required to maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.8 in order to continue to receive the scholarship.

All beneficiaries will be bonded by the Government for five years after completing their studies.

Students at the UWI, Mona (Photo contributed)

Minister Samuda said that only students who demonstrate the greatest need will be selected, and shortlisted applicants will include former beneficiaries of the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and students from inner-city and poor rural communities.

Already, three students have been selected for full scholarships.

The three young men, Shamarie Collins, Quwayne Howell and Rashaun Stewart, had recently deferred their dreams of becoming medical doctors to pursue more affordable degree programmes.

Rashaun, who delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of his fellow beneficiaries, said that the students are “very appreciative” of the support.

Rashaun Stewart (left), expresses gratitude for the award of a full scholarship from the Government, which will enable him to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Listening are fellow scholarship beneficiaries Quwayne Howell (centre) and Shamarie Collins. (Photo: Donald De La Haye, JIS)

“Prior to this endowment, I had no real idea and no concrete plan in place to get into the Faculty of Medical Sciences,” Stweart remarked.

To study medicine at the UWI, Mona costs roughly US$28,000 and, unfortunately, Stewart like many other students, was not able to get the subsidy as a result of some extenuating circumstances.

“I would have had to garner the full fee… and I was not able to source it prior to the commencement of this academic year. But thanks to this opportunity, I am now able to springboard the commencement of my dream of becoming a medical doctor,” he added.

The support from the Government adds to the financial assistance already being offered to UWI students pursuing medicine.

“We already sponsor 55 students in each cohort by paying 80 percent of their fees,” Minister Samuda said.