This is an appeal for the Prime Minister and the respective authorities to hear the pleas of Antiguan students studying at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
It was brought to the attention of the students that the Antigua Port Authority has been derelict with their payments for the student fees, and they have not been paid since the 2016 – 2017 academic year, leaving the students blacklisted. Some of the students are back in Antigua and others are still in Jamaica.
January 28th would be graduation for the batch of students that would have left Antigua in 2016, and they are unable to participate in the virtual graduation, are barred from obtaining documents, transcripts, academic clearance, and any other pertinent activities to finish their studies and careers.
The students understand due to the Covid 19 pandemic that things cannot be as normal, but the port management has had little to no substantial communication with the students. The port manager has shifted the goal post for the students’ numerous times on issues such as employment, has made baseless promises that the students are tired of hearing, encourages a divisive individualistic approach to a group, and has largely left their concerns unheard.
The students would like a meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is the minister that oversees the port and its activities. There are students currently undergoing their final year, and were barred from doing their final exams for the previous semester due to non-payments.
The school treasurer alleges that she made numerous attempts to contact the Port Authority and no one has returned her calls, however the port manager has been in contact with the professor of the university who alerted him about the situation about the students two weeks prior, before contacting them. The students feel as though no urgency or preparation has been put into them nor their integration into the port.
The students feel as though they have been unsupported and the time spent in Jamaica studying, what is a very interesting field, has been a waste of time. The students understand the financial limitations that the country is facing, but having received a government scholarship would like the involvement of the prime minister to aid this situation.
The situation has gotten so bad that the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) has gotten involved and that’s where the blacklist status has come from. The Prime Minister has been really proud of the graduates from the UWI Five Islands, should he not show the same pride in the future leaders of Antigua and Barbuda’s Marine Industry?
One student said, it’s all “Our students are doing great” for the public, but behind closed doors they love to say, “We didn’t know” or “others have done it, so can you”, in regards to our concerns.
The students are asking for the support and help of the relevant authorities in these very hard times.