FORMER tertiary education minister Fazal Karim has accused the ruling PNM administration of a “systematic dismantling” of the University of TT (UTT) even as the university placed full-page advertisements announcing its various degree programmes.
Interviewed yesterday, Karim said there was no clear developmental plan by the government and this uncertainty, coupled with rising unemployment, would not attract people to apply for its programs and may lead to a “brain drain” as people seek opportunities in other countries.
“It is very clear that the government led by Dr Keith Christopher Rowley is on a path to dismantle the University of TT. There has been no clear vision, no strategy and no plan for the future in spite of the fact that they have said there is a restructuring plan,” he said.
“What they have is a Monday morning plan – every Monday morning we see something different in the news. When it is not 25 persons who have been given dismissal letters, is 40. When it is not 40, is 100, is 125, then is 287, then it is 347 – and nobody seems to know what is happening.
“But in spite of that, they are promoting the university with full-page advertisements and when the students and parents see what is happening to UTT, will they want to send their children to that institution that is in jeopardy?”
Karim said even though the university had placed a four-page advertisement which featured a picture of an aeroplane with the heading Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Airworthiness Engineering, nothing was being said about the aviation campus at Camden, Couva.
He said there were reports that several campuses would be closed and programmes moved to the Wallerfield campus and wondered whether any studies had been done to determine the criteria for these closures. “What is happening to the UTT world-famous research station at Waterloo? What is happening at ECLAF? Why are you closing development programmes at Munroe Road, Chaguanas campus? If you want to move people from O’Meara campus to the Wallerfield Park, do you have infrastructure? Is the building completed? What programmes are you going to run there? How are people going to go to those programs?”
He said people will be put on the job line and with programmes closing down, human flight will escalate. He then offered his own reason for the crisis facing the university, saying this has happened after it had transferred its unspent balance of $323 million to the Wallerfield campus.
Meanwhile, sacked UTT lecturer Dr Kumar Mahabir also took issue with UTT’s advertisements, saying this was “damage control,” as the university had suffered a “negative blow” by firing lecturers in the education programme.
“The indiscriminately and wrongfully dismissed lecturers are heading to court to seek reinstatement and $2 million each in damages,” Mahabir said.