Loss of students pains Sir Hilary

Former principal Sir Hilary Beckles says the loss of 4,500 students as a result of Government’s implementation of tuition fees was his the most “painful” experience of his 12-year tenure at the University of the West indies, Cave Hill.

Sir Hilary, who officially took up the post of Vice-Chancellor of the UWI on May 1, bared his soul before to a packed audience at the Errol Barrow Centre of Creative Imagination last night.

Beckles, who spent some 40 minutes reflecting on his achievements, also expressed regret over a moment in Finances and General Purposes Committee when he said the Government’s debt to the campus was “so crippling that I raised my voice a little and had an unfortunate discussion with the Permanent Secretary of Education Cecile Humphrey”.

Former principal Sir Hilary Beckles
Former principal Sir Hilary Beckles

The former principal said: “I apologised to her, because the pain of not being able to pay salaries.

“And I can tell you that because of her maturity and her understanding and her forgiveness of me that I was able to continue.”

He turned to Humphrey, who was present in the audience last night, and said: “Cecile I thank you.”

Sir Hilary, who was recently involved in a very public spat with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, acknowledged that “many people would have said unpleasant words to me, but you were very sweet, you understood and forgave me, and I thank you most profoundly”.

He also zeroed in on the Government’s recent imposition of tuition fees at UWI Cave Hill saying: “I wish to apologise to y distinguished friend Damani Parris, former Guild president.

“I did try my best to work through the challenges that we have faced in the last semester for our students,” said Sir Hilary, adding: “Losing four and a half thousand students in one swoop, I cannot imagine any more painful experience than I have had, not to see those faces on the Cave Hill Campus.”

“I know it pained you,” he said to Parris, who was among those who earlier paid tribute to the Vice-Chancellor. “And believe me if I could have [stopped] it I would have. But it was not to be”.

One Response to Loss of students pains Sir Hilary

  1. Charles Worrell May 5, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Mr. Beckles comments must at this time draw a measure of admiration, even if devoid of recognition of the fact, that development in any context MUST be consistent with the particular country’s resources. Failure to recognize this will inevitably bring the results that we are currently faced with in Barbados.
    From where I sit, there is this very silly battle going on, the competitors remain as mysterious as the thrust for this “better than you” status. Barbados, since 1993, found itself embroiled in this effort to be the most developed country in the Caribbean and Better than the other nation states. This led to a bunch of buildings being erected with debt skyrocketing as we saddled ourselves with these images of ‘well-being’.
    Cost over runs were rampant and we continued without the necessary checks and balances. The then PM initiated an adjusted Carricom idea, this time based on single marketing or specialized marketing with the enabling of free movement through out the Caribbean. Stricken with myopia and self interest, we elevated the normal big four and we told the other states, “when you catch up, we will add you to the list”. The experts watched and said nothing as we continued to stamped ourselves at the top of Caribbean ladder, oblivious to the ire of T&T who refused to join anything related here but enjoyed some serious checks.
    Mr. Beckles sits in this mould with UWI. Beginning as part of higher learning in the Caribbean for the Caribbean, we exchanged each other and our expertise. We met persons who would be leaders in the Caribbean; we had much exchange and because of our common experiences, we set the stage for a unified Caribbean as we knew each other on a first name basis. Allowing the break-up of these campuses set in motion, a nasty competition. We then had to fund all these other departments that could have remained with our other brother states and with each needing the other, funding was a lot less difficult. We ignored the edge we had when compared to the American system of education and gave it up. Once parity was established, it was now more difficult to influence other students to come to come to the Caribbean largely because the question of graduate status and employment opportunities hinged nicely together and it made more sense for those of other lands to stay there. Now, we here in the Caribbean are saddled with costs that somebody has,had to bear and alas, it has fallen on the students as governments no longer see themselves as the middlemen in the leveling process, that is education. So, why is Mr. Beckles concerned now? Who was it that painted their legacy in buildings at Cave Hill WITHOUT reference to any of the mentioned information above?
    Me thinks Mr. Beckles should spend the remainder of his presence in public life working towards what the ignored concept of the regions universities were all about and could have accomplished if not otherwise encumbered by those persons who saw their names as more important than the provision of a people equipped to handle their lives and affairs much to the chagrin of the United States and others.


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