Principal Sir Hilary Beckles say a recent study conducted by Cave Hill campus, entitled The Impact of the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill Campus on the Economy of Barbados was not a publicity stunt.
In fact, he suggested that it was a mere coincidence that the research comes at a time when most of Government’s teritary education funding has been cut and those attending were being asked to pay their own way.
The study found that the UWI contributes more direct foreign exchange to the local economy than sugar and rum exports, based its generation of almost $87 million in foreign exchange in 2013.
“It was meant for information purposes, it was meant for purposes of stakeholder knowledge and bear in mind that the public of the Caribbean is an important stakeholder . . . and the public has a right to know all the information relative to how their taxpayer monies is being used.
“But what was the response? ‘Why is the University wasting its resources in carrying out such surveys? Why is the University trying to prove that they make more foreign exchange in the country than the rum industry or agriculture? What’s their agenda? Those are the questions that were asked by people in high places,” Sir Hilary told the opening session of the 13th Annual Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators Conference, being hosted by the campus over the next few days.
His comments come in response to criticisms levelled by Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss who dismissed the UWI study as a public relations exercise and Minister of Education Ronald Jones who suggested that the University should adopt a more commercial focus.
In response, Sir Hilary said “all institutions have a responsibility to carry out those impact analysis on a regular and systematic basis.
“That ought to be part of any well-managed and governed institution to carry out their impact analysis. You would imagine, therefore, thatthat information should have been welcomed with enthusiasm.
“And you would have imagined therefore that a rational response to that information would have been, ‘ok, well if that is true, how the can we use the information to promote further foreign exchange earnings, to promote more economic growth and to help us to build the potential for our flight out of poverty.
“You would have thought that would have been a rational response,” Sir Hilary reasoned.