Tales of woe
by Shawn Cumberbatch
Unprecedented “hardships” for students and staff, and an “embarrassing” inability to pay suppliers and workers on time.
That’s what the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus has been facing as it waits for almost $200 million in economic costs and tuition fees owed to it by the Freundel Stuart Administration.
In the wake of last week’s statements from Government that it will pay $90 million between next month and July to start clearing its arrears to the UWI, most of it due to the Barbados campus, Principal Professor Sir Hilary Beckles new
annual report to the institution’s council has detailed the tales to support operations which were budgeted against
of woe his organisation has faced over the past year. The noted academic said things were so bad because of
the delay in receiving state funds that “the campus has been placed in the unprecedented and embarrassing position of being unable to settle accounts with suppliers as promptly as it had done in the past”.
“More recent, the delays have impacted on the campus’ ability to pay wages in a timely manner,” he said.
The pro vice chancellor noted the campus was forced to continue with a number of budget cutting strategies “to cope with the financial crisis which threatened to have a severe impact on the core operations on the campus”.
For a third straight year the UWI here “continued freezing of vacancies, thus creating unprecedented hardships for students and the academic and administrative staff”.
Other measures included strict monitoring of teaching loads, use of energy saving strategies, reductions in overseas travel and greater use of teleconferencing, deferral of all but the most critical maintenance activities, and reduction in overtime work “to its most essential minimum”. “In addition, resources from capital projects had to be diverted and proceeds of income generating activities utilised
approved government contributions,” he said. “The campus continued to place heavy reliance
on the receipt of funds from external donors as well as self financing activities.”
Sir Hilary also said the nonpayment of funds for special projects developed in collaboration with Government “adversely affected research and innovation initiatives”.
Chairman of the campus council, Paul Altman, said despite the difficulties, “there is ample proof of the campus’ determination to provide the peoples of Barbados and the region with the high quality education and training necessary for national development”.
“This commitment is evident in the continued achievement of good examination performance at both the post graduate and the undergraduate levels,” he said.
“Of particular note is the 370 post graduate degrees during the year, as well as the growing number of persons who have been awarded research degrees.” firstname.lastname@example.org