Sachin Dookie

From navigating through the rigours of tertiary level studies to dealing with new obstacles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the path to success for many students have been dealt a major blow.

Several students say financial stress is only one of many issues they grapple with.

Higher education now appears to be one expense suddenly out of reach for some students paying their way through university. The pandemic has left many unemployed and their dreams of a brighter future in limbo. Working part-time at her parent’s bar, 22-year-old Arianna Mohammed had been able to cover her tuition tab until restrictions ground business to a halt.

“Since the pandemic happened and everything close it was really challenging. I had to request from bursary to pay out my financials for last semester. I could not afford to pay it which would have gotten me locked out from school.”

Losing her financial footing in her last academic year has taken its toll on the human resource management student.

“I would normally pay upfront for schooling and now I’m way behind on fees which is very…I get a lot of depression and anxiety and stuff so it is very challenging but I’m hoping I can go to school next semester.”

For many, failure to attain a higher education only widens their gap of being able to afford a better standard of living not just for themselves.

“I have two other siblings. One now enter into secondary school so we had to buy a whole new PC and everything and one now finish CSEC and she going to further her studies which is a next expense.”

Getting over the financial hurdle is just one of many obstacles tertiary level students face.

For Sachin Dookie, having to shift to digital learning to complete his major in Management Studies has been a challenge.

“There’s a shift from studying for an exam to doing a full-fledged research paper, or doing a lot more material that takes a lot more time and marks harder as well.”

Recent cuts to the Government Assistance for Tuition Programme (GATE) and a parent being laid off due to COVID-19 cuts, now means furthering his education will have to be put on hold.

“My intention was to do my masters but with cut back to GATE, that plan will be on the back burner so I may have to shift my I will have to get a job and put myself through masters part-time but with current job market it’s extremely difficult.”

According to another student, while it now all seems an uphill battle, she, like many, will have to push through the pandemic, “I am planning to go to work and do it part-time. I know it will have a major strain on me from friends and family talking about their past experiences. I will have no choice because education is the future and I’m looking forward to that.”