The Public Administration Ministry is coming under fire from National Scholarship winners once more. This time, the students say the ministry isn’t answering the question as to why their payments are late.
Triniscene.com first exclusively reported on the issue when students contacted our newsroom to express their frustration. The scholars say that for some time, payments (both tuition fees and personal allowances) have been consistently late by three months, every quarter. This has resulted in students receiving eviction notices in some cases from landlords, and warnings from Universities of being debarred from examinations should fees not be paid on time.
One of the Scholarship winners, Elron Elahie told Triniscene.com that even as he checked today, no payment was received. Following his swearing-in on Friday, Public Administration Minister Randall Mitchell said he became aware of the situation via social media, and will be meeting with his permanent secretary to sort out the matter “immediately.”
However, today, communications director at the Public Administration Ministry, Rae Ann Harper-Walters told Triniscene.com that there was an arrangement with Embassies of Trinidad and Tobago in respective countries to disburse the funds to students and the Embassy would in turn be reimbursed by the ministry.
Harper-Walters also said that the scholarship does not cover living expenses, and that students receive a “personal allowance.” Another scholarship winner, Deisha Lewis, previously told Triniscene.com that even the personal allowance has suffered the same fate as that of tuition fees.
That statement by the Ministry’s communications director, however, appears to contradict the words of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry who issued a release recently stating there are instances in which the Embassies are asked to disburse funds. It did not say if it was a permanent arrangement or what were the conditions that would constitute instituting a temporary one.
The release also did not explain why there was an issue with late payments in the first place.
However, Elahie dismissed the statements made by both Harper-Walters and permanent secretary Jennifer Daniel.
“I never heard of any arrangement between an embassy and students, so I will have to look into it and inform the rest of the students,” he told Triniscene.com
Even as the statements from the ministry officials appear to contradict themselves, students say they are left in limbo and are calling on the ministry to sort out the late payment issue, as the new semester in the United Kingdom resumes in October. They told Triniscene.com that while there appears to be miscommunication and no firm answer from the Ministry, they live with the looming threat of losing both their apartments and the education they have worked hard to achieve.
The Public Administration Ministry said it is continuing to look into the matter.