Retired UWI professor highlights challenges as Gov't funding dwindles

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 14, 2019

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LILLIPUT, St James — Ronald Young, a retired professor of The University of the West Indies, says while education is a “big business”, successive governments continue to allocate less resources for higher education while demanding that these institutions produce more.

“Especially if you look at this budget, it is not sufficient to say that we just don't have the money, because money has been found to put into other things,” said Young. “Other things are important, mind you, but education is important.

“And we know that education is not only important for the development of industries, innovation, export... but it is also important for crime. It is not that education is going to solve crime, but certainly [it] will help to alleviate some of the crime issues,” he added.

The professor, while questioning why institutions of higher learning are appealing for more money when education is said to be “good business”, pointed out that tertiary institutions are faced with a number challenges.

“We know that the fee thing is not working. We know that the business of generating money by consultancy for industry [is] not working, because our industries are not doing innovative things, and so they are not going to be paying the universities to innovate when they are not looking for innovation...” Young argued.

Professor Young, who was speaking to members of the media at the University Council of Jamaica Symposium on Quality Education and launch of the UCJ Integrated Quality Assurance Management System at Iberostar Hotels and Resorts in St James on Tuesday, was expounding on comments he made while chairing a session that dealt with quality issues in the discipline.

The professor of human and comparative physiology, who has served as pro-vice-chancellor with responsibility for the graduate school at The UWI, also commented on the Government's recently announced provision of $3 billion in grant support to the Students' Loan Bureau (SLB) for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, which is aimed at increasing access to tertiary education.

The move allows for payments to be made to the most outstanding balance first for new loans, an immediate reduction in interest rates of two percentage points for postgraduate students who are in good standing with the SLB, and a 10 per cent forgiveness in loan balance for each full year that a student is employed full-time to a registered charity in good standing.

However, Young said the move is suggesting that the Government will not be giving more money to tertiary institutions, but instead to the lending institution to allow students to pay their fees.

Meanwhile, a number of tertiary institutions received institutional and programme accreditation certificates from the University Council of Jamaica on Tuesday.

Among the accredited universities are the University of Technology, Jamaica and Northern Caribbean University.

Caribbean Maritime University, Excelsior Community College, Mico University College, and the University College of the Caribbean (trading as the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean) are candidates for institutional accreditation.


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