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Tales of woe

by Shawn Cumberbatch

Sir Hilary Beckles (File photo)

Sir Hilary Beckles (File photo)

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.”

3 Responses to Tales of woe

  1. Colin March 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

    This is an interesting article. If I understand it correctly, the Campus is making better use of its resources since it does not have access to funds in the manner that they have been accustomed to. I am curious about the capital works program undertaken over the last few years and the impact of its maintenance costs on the recurrent budget.

  2. Freeagent April 1, 2013 at 7:35 am

    It is time that Barbadians pay for their university education like students in more developed countries in the world. Some of those students work two and three jobs in order to pay for their education which can be from twenty to thirty thousand dollars per year. Many of our UWI students are working people who can pay for their education.
    Likewise, those students who show little respect for the millions of dollars that are spent on education should be made to pay for it, especially those children in the secondary schools.
    We need to stand on our own feet and stop our dependence on government.

  3. Amanda April 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Freeagent – Barbadians DO pay for their university education – through the high taxes we pay. What nonsense, talking about depending on government – government earns revenue solely through taxing us.

    Governments then use this money for all sorts of things – some useful like supporting the QEH and fixing roads and some questionable like propping up the Four Seasons project or creating constituency councils or the GEMS project. So why not spend it on UWI when widespread access to quality education has made Barbados what it is?

    The truth is, there are a lot of people – even so-called middle class Barbadians, who would not be able to afford to send their children even to UWI if the full tuition fees were to be paid.

    I was raised ‘middle class’ by a single mother and the truth is, between raising me, my sister, paying mortgage on her piece of the rock and supporting her elderly and ailing parents, my mother would not have been able to afford to pay my UWI fees. In fact, I needed a loan from the Student Loan Revolving Fund just to afford my accommodation and miscellaneous fees.

    Which means I would have had to work for some years to save for it. Which means I would have gotten my degree later – maybe 3 or 4 years later. Which means I would have gotten my scholarship and my 2nd degree even later. Which means I would not yet be making the salary that I am now making – which allows me to pay very high income taxes (two grand a month) so that government has revenue to do what it needs to do. So I think my ‘dependence’ on government has reaped dividends for the wider society.

    But…maybe… I would have ended up not going to university at all if I had to pay for it. Which happens to many people in countries where university education is not funded as ours is.


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