Prime Minister Donates $2.5M to UTech, Jamaica for Students in Need

The Most Hon. Andrew Holness (left) Prime Minister presents  symbolic cheques to Professor Colin Gyles, Acting President, University of Technology, Jamaica for$1M and $1.5 M from the Prime Minister’s Positive Jamaica Foundation and the Jamaica Labour Party Education Fund respectively.  The scholarship presentation in support of students with greatest financial need was made at the University’s Papine Campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, ON, MP today (Tuesday, October 20, 2020) donated J$2.5 M to the University of Technology, Jamaica to assist students with greatest financial need at this time.  The Prime Minister presented acting University President, Professor Colin Gyles with two cheques – one for $1.5 M from the JLP Education Fund and the other for $1 million to the institution from the Prime Minister’s Positive Jamaica Foundation.

Referencing recent reports in a newspaper article concerning financial difficulties being faced by university students, the Prime Minister said that he was moved to reach out to the University of Technology, Jamaica to make a contribution to assist students who are experiencing financial difficulties. “I read with concern an article in the newspaper recently that outlined the difficulties that university students were having.  The difficulties revolved around their lack of ability to finance their education.  The COVID-19 times would have made it difficult for everyone but particularly for students,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the other reported challenge was technology, whereby students were not able to connect to online classes owing to lack of devices and a lack of reliable internet connectivity, particularly in some rural communities. 

“This in my mind would be a perfect example of what is considered the e digital divide,” the Prime Minister lamented, adding that “there are persons in our society who are poor, but their poverty is not just as it relates to income and personal savings but their poverty is also lack of connectivity.  So another dimension of poverty is lack of connectivity – how well connected are you to information networks, to the information highway and how are you able to virtually participate in the new economies that are emerging and the modalities that are emerging to conduct transactions.”

Noting that there is always a great correlation between income, access and performance, which may result in scholarships sometimes being awarded to persons who may not necessarily have a need, the Prime Minister noted that “what we try to do to balance that scale is to offer these scholarships to the universities.  So instead of the Jamaica Labour Party going to select who is in need; it would be better that this is done by the universities who could adjudge that, without any form of political consideration,” the Prime Minister said.

The scholarship to the University of Technology, Jamaica is being offered for the second consecutive year by the Jamaica Labour Party Education Fund and the Positive Jamaica Foundation. In handing over the cheques, the Prime Minister said that “I am very pleased that I can  for the second year running offer the support to our students who are in need.  The terms that applied last year will apply this year; same range between $100,000 to $150,000 to students who are definitely in need, and if you find it possible to support devices and Internet connectivity we certainly support it.” The Prime Minister also noted that the University may opt to use the funds to provide smaller grants to assist with data plans for students.

Professor Colin Gyles in expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister for the generous donation noted that the University continues to be mindful of the financial challenges faced by students and continues to seek ways of providing assistance through scholarships and grants, many of which are funded by the private sector.  “Despite this assistance, many of our students still find it very difficult and so we are grateful for the kind assistance offered to our students,” he said. 

Professor Gyles outlined the various fee payment arrangements implemented by the University to minimise the challenges faced by students.  These he noted include allowing students to complete their registration after paying a minimum of 30% of fees, down from the previous threshold of 55%.  “Additionally, we have waived the facility fee charges normally applied to outstanding tuition fees below a minimum of $2,000 for local students and US $15 for international students.  We have also given students an extended time to pay their fees by extending the registration deadline to November 30, 2020” Professor Gyles noted. 

The Acting President also reported that 24 final year students benefitted from the Prime Minister’s donation made in November of last year.  He also advised that in “paying it forward” by helping others through volunteerism, all students have begun or are in the process of completing structured community service projects.

UTech, Jamaica Students’ Union President, Mr Khalil Hutchinson in noting that many students are experiencing difficulties with affording  data connectivity to the Internet, extended sincere thanks to the Prime Minister on behalf of the student body for the generous support.

The Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre) Prime Minister, shares in a group photo with (from left) Mrs. Mercedes Deane, University Registrar, Mr Khalil Hutchinson, President, UTech, Jamaica Students’ Union, Professor Colin Gyles, President (Acting) and Mrs Maxine Gordon, Acting Chief Business and Finance Officer. 


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 876 970-5299