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Thursday 23 May 2019
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UWI head: Private sector must invest in education

UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Hilary 
Beckles.
UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Hilary Beckles.

UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) Vice-Chancellor Prof Hilary Beckles has said UWI is not concerned about any adjustments to the Government Assisted Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme in TT, but the regional private sector must invest more in higher education in the Caribbean.

He made these comments at a news conference at UWI's St Augustine campus yesterday.

Referring to statements from Government in 2017 about reviewing GATE, Beckles said regional governments have financed higher education very well over the last 40 years.

"When the economies grow, the governments have always shared that growth with the university."

Now, he said, the national private sector has "to shift its consciousness to make that kind of investment."

Beckles observed that Sagicor has emerged as one of the largest investors in UWI.

"Every corporate leader in this region should be a champion of that message," Beckles declared.

With many Caribbean countries either in International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes, coming out of these programmes or under IMF surveillance, Beckles said there is no reason why the IMF's involvement in the region cannot be reduced in the next decade, though the extent of the IMF's current involvement in the Caribbean shows "we have not achieved the growth that we have been expecting," and regional economies must restructure, diversify and become more competitive to change this state of affairs.

Beckles also said Finance Minister Colm Imbert is correct about TT's economy stabilising after a period of negative growth.

"I believe the statements made by the Minister of Finance that TT has been able to stabilise, cut public expenditure, ensure stability of the economy. These things are true," Beckles said. Now that these things have been achieved, he said, it is hoped that TT, Jamaica and Barbados could experience more robust economic growth "in the next year or two."

While Caricom's larger economies (TT, Jamaica, Barbados) have experienced "anaemic growth," Beckles said the objective is to transition all Caricom economies to robust growth. He was heartened to know that Grenada, St Vincent and Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda experienced four to five per cent growth, as these countries have been "at the back of the curve for a very long time."

He also said UWI cannot address security concerns where its campuses exist if it plays no role in getting to the root of the problem in those countries.

Beckles also said the university continues to address its human resource challenges as it seeks to improve its efficiency.

The Vice-Chancellor's report, which will be presented to the University Council's meeting in St Augustine today, showed a total student enrolment of 48,525 for 2017/2018.

This represented a 1.3 per cent decrease from the previous year. There was a 68.4 per cent total university enrolment by women, compared to a 31. 6 per cent enrolment by men over 2017/2018.

Today's meeting will also review the first phase of UWI's Triple A Strategy, aimed at expanding its collaboration with other universities around the world.

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