Beckles hit back at Barbados PM

Beckles hit back at Barbados PM

Academic says he has no desire to enter politics

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Outgoing principal of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies Sir Hilary Beckles says he has no intention of accepting an invitation from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to join the political fray in the country.

"My aspirations are going in the other direction," Sir Hilary told journalists. "I am looking forward to giving a few years to the university as vice-chancellor, to participate in the globalisation of the University of the West Indies. This is where I want to put my energy," he added.

On Sunday night, Stuart accused Sir Hilary of presiding over an "alternative government".

Addressing supporters of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Prime Minister Stuart said that Sir Hilary, who is to assume the post of vice chancellor of the regional institution in June, would do well not to take his "bad habits' into his new position.

Stuart, accusing the academic of a "singular exhibition of bad, bad manners" said that for the first time in the Caribbean, "we have had a principal of a university descending from Mount Olympus, as he sees it, and deciding that he presides over an institution that is not just an institution of learning but that is an alternative government".

The Barbados prime minister was no doubt making reference to the recent remarks of the Cave Hill principal, who during a recent UWI student awards ceremony complained that the Government's decision to cut back on spending in the education sector had set the Cave Hill Campus back 20 years and were nothing short of an assault on working-class women.

Last August, Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler in his 2013/14 budget presentation, said that effective 2014, Barbadian students pursuing studies at the university's three campuses will be required to pay their own tuition fees, while the government continues to fund economic costs.

Sinckler said the tuition fees range from BDS$5,625 to BDS$65,000 (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) and that the new policy would reduce the transfer to UWI by an estimated BDS$42 million a year.

Sir Hilary told reporters that he has written Prime Minister Stuart requesting a formal meeting, "where we can discuss matters in relation to education... the contribution Cave Hill can make to the development of the Barbados economy and to discuss a series of issues on how the university can play a role in lifting this country out of recession.

"As soon as I receive the invitation to that meeting, I will be able to speak with the prime minister," he said. "And I'm sure that when we have that conversation, we will discuss not only official business but we will also discuss some social issues as well".

Sir Hilary said that following his retirement from the UWI he intends settling in St Andrew where "where I am going to build my little chattel house, and I will go back to the breeze of the east coast, from whence I came".

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