Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said the government intends to abandon the system of bonding scholarship recipients after their studies are completed.
The bond, which normally lasts several years, compels students who are the beneficiaries of scholarships secured through the government to spend time in the government’s service once they have completed their education.
The prime minister said abandoning the bond is necessary to address the education and skills deficit in the country.
Moving on from this antiquated system, he believes, will create other avenues through which university leavers can contribute meaningfully to their homeland.
“My government will be eliminating the need for bonding.
“They’re many who speak about a ‘brain drain’, but we’d rather our people leave our shores qualified, go abroad, make money, remit funds to our shores, rather than to stay here uneducated and poor.
“We rather educating them, and if they can’t find jobs here, we create the opportunity for them to find jobs abroad.
“At some point, they will return to our shores and even bring superior skills,” Browne explained.
On Tuesday at the US$80 million loan agreement signing between the government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus (UWI FIC), Browne said once the expansion work is complete, the Antigua/Barbuda-based campus will move to offer areas of study which will equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the challenges and evolving needs of the country and the region.
The expanded areas of interest, Browne said, will include climate change, the Blue Economy and Finance.