In light of funding challenges facing The University of the West Indies (UWI), its University Grants Committee (UGC) met at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Mona last week Thursday, to receive the special report of a task force commissioned to examine alternative models.
The meeting, chaired by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and attended by Government representatives of the university’s contributing countries along with members of its executive management, discussed and explored ways to ensure the financial sustainability of university research, teaching and community service for the future.
Mottley, who is also the minister of finance, economic affairs and investment of Barbados as well as a former education minister and University Council member, is said to have expressed concern for the university’s financial health and provided insights and leadership in respect of the task force’s recommendations.
According to a release from The UWI, among her critical contributions, Mottley called for the establishment of a University Trust Fund to manage the institution’s wealth potential.
This, she suggested, may be initially capitalised if the governments agree to provide physical assets and other revenue-performing assets in lieu of cash. This will help the university in terms of having some of the governments’ receivables settled, the release said.
“Many governments pledged to look at the settling of some of their arrears in the next few months. In the medium term, however, the university currently has three primary sources of income on which it relies. While it continues to strengthen its potential in these areas, it should, as it goes global, have the ability to receive gifts of land and shares from governments and individuals (especially graduates), to add to its corporate endowment programme.
“If this is ultimately agreed to by the University Grants Committee, the university should use the establishment of this trust to ensure that it can hold faith with its original mandate 70 years ago and keep the fees paid by governments and students at an affordable level. We will await in the next few months the Report of the Expanded Task Force” she said.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles thanked the task force for an excellent report, and commended Prime Minister Mottley for her transformational leadership.
He was optimistic that “the path discussed and agreed would lead to a new era in the history of the University”, the release said.
The vice-chancellor also expressed gratitude to all the governments representatives for their “commitment to resolving the collection crisis that has befallen the institution”.
The special task force was established in 2017 in response to the mounting level of arrears owing to the university by regional governments, which was also the subject of a discussion at the Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Haiti earlier this year, the release said.
The task force is co-chaired by Professor Densil Williams, pro vice-chancellor, planning, The UWI, and Ravi Rambarran, group chief operating officer, Sagicor Financial Corporation, and comprises representatives of the private sector, contributing governments, student body, and university executive management, the release said.
Source: Jamaica Observer