Students in St. Vincent and the Grenadines desirous of pursuing studies in medicine are being encouraged to do so at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves speaking today on WEFM’s Morning Programme explained that while the possibility of pursuing studies at one of the four Medical Schools located here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines seems attractive, the cost to be incurred exceeds that of attending UWI.

“I want to advise the students wanting to do medicine, do your best to get to UWI. I know the local Medical Schools are attractive to a number of students because they are here and we have four of them. And all of the schools as far as I know give discounts to students, some schools give more than others. But I want to caution that these Medical Schools are structured for students from overseas who have good money to pay to these schools,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said the government provides a significant level of financial assistance to students to fund their medical studies at the UWI.

According to Dr. Gonsalves, a five year study in medicine at the UWI can cost approximately half a million dollars.

“At St. Augustine in Trinidad…it cost about $495,000 for the five years. At Mona (Jamaica) it costs about $492,000 for the five years, because that includes the costs for the programme plus living expenses. In Barbados it is about 503-504 thousand dollars. You can call it roughly half a million dollars. That includes Economic Costs, Tuition, all the various fees and living expenses,” he explained.

The Prime Minister explained that the government pays the Economic Costs for students which amounts to between 120 to just over 130 thousand dollars, annually, in addition to the Tuition Grant and Economically Disadvantaged Student Loan of $150,000.

Dr. Gonsalves said that at the more expensive Medical Schools based here, the cost for about five years of studying medicine could amount to about three quarter of a million dollars and the government does not pay the Economic Cost, as it does for students at the UWI.

He further explained that unlike the UWI, the locally based Medical Schools often accept students without all the prerequisites and then have them pay for preliminary programmes.

“What these medical schools do what the University of the West Indies doesn’t do they will take you in without all the prerequisites and take you on preliminary programmes which you have to pay for. But we have basically a free Community College to do you that. But a number of the students who go to these Medical schools locally, they convince their parents and the parents don’t do the math and the issues I’m talking about here they don’t have a comprehension of them,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister reminded listeners that the Cuban government provides scholarships for Vincentian students to pursue medical studies in Cuba. He said about 11 or 12 Medical Scholarships to Cuba were provided this year.

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