Our Campus

Embracing the future

UWI Financial Advisory Services give students the opportunity to afford higher education and campus life

By Amy Li Baksh

In academic spaces, the narrative of the journey to success often focuses on what you do within the classroom, or within your field of study itself. But, for many students, there are other invisible barriers that can influence their academic outcomes, and one of the most influential is finances. For students who are facing financial difficulties, this can affect their ability to pay for tuition, books and other academic materials, as well as living expenses like meals, accommodation, and transportation.

At The UWI, the Financial Advisory Services Department (FAS) is designed to help students navigate these issues, through financial aid programmes and services.

“The Financial Advisory Services Department provides financial aid programmes to students facing a range of financial challenges,” said Kristy Mannette-Smith, manager of FAS. “We are also the hub for privately-donated scholarships and bursaries – non-tuition-based bursaries – from external or internal stakeholders who are desirous of donating to assist students.”

The department undertakes both the “donor management” – building and retaining donors – and administrative processes related to their financial aid programmes financially challenged students.

“We also offer financial education workshops, because we believe in equipping our students with knowledge on how to manage their funds—how to plan for retirement, how to create a proper budget, and even how to buy a house or car,” says Mannette-Smith.

For First Year student Breana Rambaran, currently pursuing her BSc in Biology, the FAS was able to provide her with the resources necessary to make the commute to campus every day.

“I come from pretty far, from deep south,” said Rambaran. “I need to travel to and fro every single day, because I can’t afford to stay near campus. There’s a lot of travelling every single day to get to school on time.”

For Rambaran, a discussion with one of her lecturers led to her going through the application process. FAS reached out to her, and was able to provide financial aid for her transportation costs. “When I was referred, they contacted me, I gave them my information, they found out about my situation, and it went smoothly after that.”

She always had an inclination towards science, thus pursuing biology is her way of following her passion, and hopefully one day becoming a teacher in the field.

“There’s only one working parent in my household, and I also have a younger sibling in secondary school, so there are expenses for both of us. With the financial aid, I was able to be less dependent on my parents,” she said.

With the issue of commuting off her plate, she is able to focus on her studies, especially as she hopes to take on a double major—in Biochemistry as well as Biology.

For Saint Lucian postgraduate student Joel Henry (no relation to UWI TODAY’s editor), the FAS has helped ease the mental burden of finances as he pursues his MSc in Economics.

“I took a leap of faith and made my way to Trinidad,” said Henry.

Although he had support from family, he found the financial stress was taking a toll on him, and department staff encouraged him to reach out to the FAS team. “I remember going in on either a Monday or Tuesday, and by the end of the week, they had arranged a grant for me to move onto campus, and another grant for me to buy food and take care of myself until the end of the semester. I couldn’t believe it.”

Explaining the types of scholarships and bursaries, and other the financial aid programmes offered by FAS, Mannette-Smith says, “For instance, once registered, students can apply for a hardship grant of up to $TT5000 during the semester, to support their academic and non-academic situations. This grant is non-repayable.”

For the scholarships and bursaries, the application process is cyclical. “For new students, the application period runs for the month of September every year. For those who are already in the system, the application period runs from January to May.”

Interested students can always reach out to the FAS team for help finding out what they are eligible for and what the application processes are like. Many, like Rambaran and Henry, are guided by staff in their departments. However, this isn’t the only way UWI staff can contribute through financial aid.

“We have another programme called the Adopt-A-Student Programme which offers eligible students TT$400-500 a month every month in the semester, and they can renew that the next semester. This programme is funded by members of staff at The UWI,” said Mannette-Smith. “They contribute voluntarily from their salaries every month, which is deserving of mention, and for which we are grateful. Even as little as $20 can be gifted, because we see how it all adds up to support our students.”

For students who are reticent to reach out for financial help, Mannette-Smith wants them to know that the FAS is a safe space for them to access. “We have these programmes in place just to assist you,” she said. “Even if you think you don’t qualify, give it a try! The funds are here for you.”

For more information on accessing financial aid at UWI St Augustine, visit

Scholarship/Bursary Donors

Anya Schnoor
Association of Professional Engineers of T&T (APETT)
Board of Engineering of T&T
BPTT Dr. Camille Samuel
Caribbean Gas Chemical Limited (CGCL)
Caribbean Neurology Services Limited (Dr. Avidesh Panday)
Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) SPC
Mr. Derwin Howell
Prof. Elizabeth Walcott Hackshaw and Mrs Anna Walcott-Hardy
Dr. Justin Koo
ENGAGE Engineering Agencies Caribbean Ltd.
Felisha Fyzoudeen
First Citizens
Freedom Hall Network Group
Holy Name Convent Port-of-Spain Past Pupils Association (HNCPOSPPA)
Leon and Jamie Cook
Lutchman and Parbati Ramnarine
Mr. Malcolm Carrington & Mr. Sherwin Bridgewater
Methanex Trinidad Limited 1948 Medical Society
National Energy Corporation of T&T Limited
Mr. Norbert Fullerton & Mr. Andrew Long: Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)
Powergen Prestige Holdings Co. Limited
Professor Wordsworth Price
Public Services Credit Union
Republic Bank Limited
Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Ltd.
St. Joseph’s Covent Port-of-Spain Past Pupils’ Association: The Ivy Scholarship
Mr. Sylvan Bowles
Teachers Credit Union Co-Operative Society Limited
The Geological Society of Trinidad & Tobago
The National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago
The Telecommunication Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT)
Trintoplan Consultants Limited
UWI Alumni Association (Trinidad and Tobago Chapter)
UWI Credit Union “The Jerris Attzs” Bursary
UWI Development & Endowment Fund (UWIDEF)
UWI Guild of Students, St. Augustine Campus
UWI Medical Alumni Association (UWIMAA)
Venture Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited & Ms. Esme Raphael
Mr. Victor Price
West Indies Group of University Teachers (WIGUT)
YARA Trinidad Limited YTEPP Limited
Ms. Zena Mohammed

Amy Li Baksh is a Trinidadian writer, artist and activist.