CABINET will review the terminations of 30 lecturers of the University of TT (UTT) last Friday plus other staff identified for retrenchment, Education Minister Anthony Garcia told Newsday yesterday.
“I have asked the (UTT) board to hold its hand until Cabinet reviews the entire situation,” he said. Initially Garcia had taken issue with critics who claimed the terminations were a surprise.
“This has been in the public domain for months. In many areas there is over staffing.”
He said an audit a few months ago had shown certain courses for which student enrolment was just two or three, or even in one case just one student. “For a course to be viable you need at least 15 students,” Garcia said citing figures regularly used by the University of the West Indies (The UWI) and COSTAAT. He said even in courses with over 15 students, over staffing may occur. As line minister, he is talking to the UTT board and management to see how best to deal with the situation, and has held three meetings with the UTT and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union representing non-academic staff.
“I’m taking a note to Cabinet next week to present recommendations on how to deal with the situation. As a result, I’ve asked (UTT) management to hold its hand on any further distribution of dismissal letters until we get a position from Cabinet.”
Asked if fair criteria were used to select staff for termination, Garcia said he does not micro-manage but liaises with the UTT board weekly. “I don’t think we should allow this to be politicised. It’s strictly a case of survival of a national university, to be organised and run to the best of our ability and with our resources.”
Garcia flatly denied allegations of racism in the firings levelled by Aranguez-based Pundit Satyanand Maharaj.
“It’s nothing to do with race. I don’t even know the names of the people being terminated. To introduce race is very unfortunate.”