Dominican Students Plead for Timely Government Payment to Avert Educational Crisis
In a desperate plea to the Government of Dominica, students at Midwestern State University (MSU) are calling for the fulfilment of a commitment to settle outstanding tuition fees. With the deadline for registration for the new academic semester closely approaching, the students say, the situation's urgency cannot be overstated.
Speaking to The Sun Newspaper, the Dominica students based in Texas in the United States of America (USA) revealed that failure to resolve the outstanding payments hinders their educational progress and jeopardizes their visa statuses, potentially leading to termination.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation and the impending deadline, the students say they feel compelled to bring this issue to the public's attention for a swift resolution.
"Over a week ago, we sent a detailed communication to multiple departments within the Government of Dominica regarding the pending payments for our tuition fees. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive any concrete response or action," they disclosed. "As the new academic registration is set to commence on November 6th, it is imperative that the outstanding payments are settled promptly."
Payment records shared by the students from 2021 to the present highlighted a lapse in payments by the government of Dominica. It was further disclosed that the government had committed to a monthly payment plan of $100,000 to MSU.
However, "as of now, the government has made two payments under this arrangement. Additionally, during our recent discussion with MSU officials, the government requested two invoices, each amounting to $500,000, in the last week of August, but the corresponding payments have not been made as yet."
Based on financial documents received, the government of Dominica owes the MSU over US$ 1 million.
Their communication directed to various departments within the government has gone unanswered, so they sounded this appeal, "We implore the Government of Dominica to prioritize this matter and provide a viable solution before the upcoming deadline," the students pleaded. "Our academic futures and legal standings in the United States are at stake."
In August 2023, after two ultimatums were issued by the MSU and the Grambling State University to the government of Dominica for payment, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit acknowledged the financial challenges faced by his government due to external factors like the pandemic and natural disasters. He, however, pledged a commitment to students' higher education.
Dr. Edwin Litolff, Vice President for Finance of GSU, revealed that Dominica's debt has reached over US$3.1 million. GSU issued an ultimatum, stating that without payment, Dominican students will face restrictions on class registration and campus residence for the Spring Semester 2024.
MSU's Vice President for Administration and Finance, Dr. Beth Reissenweber, and Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Dr. Keith Lamb, issued an ultimatum stating that Dominican students must comply with standard payment terms, or they won't be able to register for the Spring 2024 semester.
During an August press conference, Prime Minister Skerrit, addressing growing concerns, announced that the government has started making payments. He stated, "We have started paying for the students studying overseas. We're sending a million US dollars to Grambling to pay for the students, and we'll be sending a half a million dollars to Midwestern, so we're paying down on our debt to students."
Skerrit emphasized the government's engagement with affected students, urging them to display self-control and discipline in addressing challenges. He highlighted the government's significant financial investment in education to create a robust educational framework for success.