The College of the Bahamas’ president is being used as a scapegoat in the students-fee hike fiasco, which started when government announced the cutting of the college’s subsidy, Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis told The Tribune.
Dr Minnis, speaking about the current dilemma at COB and the unionists’ call for the president to resign, claimed the decision by the college executive to raise student fees could not be blamed solely on Dr Betsy Vogel-Boze, as all decisions concerning the running of the college is done through the College Council headed by a chairman.
“Those fee hikes at the college would’ve never happened if the government did not cut their subsidy,” the Free National Movement leader said.
“They’re trying to use the president as a scapegoat but at the end of the day, the point is, if the government had not cut the subsidy, this whole dilemma would not be happening. And the prime minister repeatedly said he didn’t know about it? If he didn’t know, we as a country, are in serious trouble.’”
In late December 2012, the Ministry of Finance informed all public corporations and statutory entities that in view of the current economic situation and associated fiscal burden, the government would have to reduce their subsidies.
This was to include COB, which incurs an initial 10 per cent reduction taking effect in the 2013/2014 fiscal year, and an increased reduction of 25 per cent in total by the 2014/2015 fiscal year.
COB president Dr Vogel-Boze has said that it would be very challenging to move to university status while the organisation faces cuts to subsidies, but the college would make use of what is being given to the institution over the next two years while continuing the transition from college to university.
In the face of proposed subsidy cuts, COB’s senior administration recommended that tuition be raise to substitute for those cuts, which in turn raised the ire of the student body, resulting in protests against both the subsidy cut and the subsequent recommendation for the tuition increase, COB’s union of students went to parliament on Wednesday to attend the proceedings but were barred by the police from entering.
By Lamech Johnson
Tribune Staff Reporter