Lecturer calls on Govt. to subsidise university fees

An Economics Lecturer at the National University of Samoa, Tamaleta Taimang Jensen, believes the Government should subsidise the cost for all its students, not just the smartest ones.

Tamaleta, who is also a former Ministry of Finance Budget officer, said the Government needs to think beyond scholarships for excelling students for the health of the country.

“A healthy country has a well-educated population, like every other developed country,” he said.

His comments follow the announcement of the 2019/2020 budget, where $2.3 million was allocated for scholarships (and resources for hosting meetings) for the Ministry of Finance. 

The exact fund has not been published yet. 

As a University lecturer, Tamaleta said he sees too many students dropping out because of high fees as they, their parents or wider families, cannot make the payments.

“And when fees are [over]due, the students can’t come to lectures, they get locked out and that handicaps them. By the time they come back, the lectures are beyond them,” he said.

Tamaleta believes the university management thinks of itself as a “money maker”, even though it is a government-run university.

Students should pay some fees to study but currently they are too prohibitive, Tamaleta said.

“It shouldn’t come free, they should pay something, but the university’s mind-set, they think it’s a profit making organisation but it’s not it’s a non-profit organisation; all they should do is try to break even.

“It’s just thoughts for the Government. They think they are helping out by just helping the bright students but most of those bright students are children of wealthy people, who can afford to take their kid to tutorials and things like that,” he said. 

Those are students who will win scholarships anyway, so those who cannot should pay reduced university fees to be able to advance themselves.

“As long as they have brains and a qualification they can help themselves and whatever they do will help the economy as well.

“Every student’s fees should be subsidized by government, across the board.”

Today, students pay anywhere between $150 and $600 per paper per semester, with some courses cost upwards of $1,000. After additional fees are paid, a full time student taking on eight papers a year might pay over $2,500 per year. 

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