The blog Caribisch Netwerk reports that, currently, the number of medical students on Saba has seriously reduced. The economy on Saba runs, apart from the tourists, on 2000 people, of which 400 are usually students at the Saba University School of Medicine. But at the moment there are barely 200 foreign students enrolled in the international private education. If this trend continues, the government of Saba expects a fall in income of 20 percent in all sectors on the island – from supermarket to housing market – the government will also miss out on income. “It would be a bitter pill,” says Governor Jonathan Johnson. He also has little information about the university, where mainly North American and Canadian students study.
The students saw their lectures shrink from 70 to 35 students in certain subject areas. Discussions with students show that the reasons why students stay away or drop out of their studies early vary. For example, in 2017 Hurricane Irma would have caused many students, but also teachers, to leave the island. New students would therefore stay away.
Furthermore, the high rents on the island also play a role in keeping students away. For a room of 25 square meters you quickly pay more than 650 dollars. In addition, students say that the lectures prove to be tough and often take too long: from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon. All this breaks up many and makes studying on Saba less attractive, according to students.
Across the campus is Zhangchao Li’s supermarket Saba Wishes, better known as Enson. He is very concerned because he is completely dependent on university students for his income. “I hardly get any local Sabans in my store because I am not in the loop,” says Zhangchao Li. “As a result, my products with a limited shelf life will stay longer and I can eventually take them to the landfill,” says the supermarket owner visibly excited.
The university does not want to comment on the concerns about the decline in the number of international students on the island. The new courses will start again in September.