Heritage funds can boost attendance at UWI, says registrar

By Jamaican Observer - Career & Education

Friday, May 09, 2014

AN agreement signed between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Heritage Education Funds International (HEFI), LLC, will increase student access to the UWI, according to the University Registrar Clement Iton.

The agreement, which was signed on Wednesday, confirmed HEFI as the Education Savings Plan Provider under the Regional Pelican Perks programme initiated by UWI's Institutional Advancement Division.

Speaking at the Regional UWI/Pelican Perks Heritage Education Funds International launch at the UWI Regional Headquarters on Wednesday. "Higher education is expensive and this programme is particularly welcome as we have been seeing a reduction in enrollment at the university due to the economic realities across the region," Iton emphasised.

Headquartered in Canada, HEFI is a distributor of the Heritage International Scholarship Trust plan and a subsidiary of Heritage Financial Group Limited, which manages a range of education savings plans and has assets under management of over Can $2.18 billion.

The company has regional offices in Jamaica and several other Caribbean islands, including Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas, and has since 1983 enrolled more than 55,000 children and paid out over US$100 million in savings and education assistance programmes.

Explaining how the HEFI Savings Education Plan works, Lyndie Headley, agency director for Jamaica, said parents may open a savings account with HEFI and save in US dollars until their children reach age 18.

"At age 18, the principal amount is returned to the subscriber in US dollars, less a small administration fee and these funds can then be used to pay for their children's first year of university. As they pass into their second year, they receive a cash scholarship from HEFI, once they make passing grades at a recognised university, college or technical institution anywhere in the world."

In Jamaica, to date Headley said, "HEFI has disbursed to parents and students principal and scholarships in excess of US$16 million".

Jason Maguire, president and CEO of HEFI said that the partnership with the UWI will help both entities "to create more change in the world, one child at a time".

Pointing to challenges in the environment, the economy and the geopolitical scene, Maguire said "nothing is predictable anymore. Yesterday's world as we once knew it is over. We need exceptional educated people to handle the new challenges. We need people who understand the complexities that will provide solutions to the problems we face."

Maguire said that universities are essential to producing the professionals who will be able to step up to accept tomorrow's challenges and that HEFI, which has been assisting parents to save for their children's education for almost 50 years and 20 in Jamaica "can now extend even greater benefits as we begin this relationship with UWI and become a Pelican Perks Partner".

Celia Davidson Francis, director of Alumni Relations at UWI welcomed HEFI into the Regional Pelican Perks Programme which she described as "an exciting way to bring special benefits including product discounts through merchant partners, to over 140,000 graduate professionals worldwide.