CHIEF Secretary Kelvin Charles said discussions are continuing on the establishment of a Tobago university, but warned that it is not something that will come to fruition "overnight,"
“We’re at the point now where we are moving as assiduously as we can to bring that off, recognising as we do that it is an extremely costly exercise and you don’t build or fashion a university overnight," he said.
Addressing Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing at the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Charles said a university would provide several benefits to the island.
Also the Secretary of Education, Charles said the assembly was trying to collaborate with institutions that are already in existence, to ensure that Tobago benefits directly, "By way of our students being allowed the opportunity to engage in certain faculty and programmes; in terms of our hospitality industry, because once students come from abroad they would have to stay somewhere, and of course, they would have to eat, so we’re talking as well foreign exchange." In addition, he said capacity would be built "to the point where we have a full fledged university here in Tobago.”
Charles denied social media claims that the discussions only started as a result of a motion raised in the Assembly Legislature just over a month ago by minority councillor Dr Faith BYisrael.
He recalled that in January 2017, before his administration came into office, the idea was discussed. The original intent, he said, was to bring together three entities: the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute, the Kendall Farm School and the Buccoo Reef Trust.
So he didn't understand why people would make out that the idea was a new one. "This has been mooted many, many years ago and you know normally ideas precede implementation," he said,
When his administration came into office in 2017, he said, it held talks with the Tobagonian president of a university abroad, which eventually led to the formation of the Tobago Colleges and Universities consortium, a private entity.
Those talks continued to the point where representatives of that consortium are in Tobago to explore certain possibilities, he said, whichmight see a batch of foreign students beginning programmes in Tobago this September.