Regional governments owe the University of the West Indies – UWI – more than 100 million US dollars…
But Vice chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris who made the disclosure says that apart from reinforcing the university’s financial plight, there is nothing UWI can do to recoup the money.
He did not divulge the amounts owed by individual countries or how far back the debt goes…
But Professor Harris who is in Antigua for the Caricom heads of government meeting says the talks presents a perfect opportunity for UWI to remind the leaders of the debt.
“They have written letters to some governments in this meeting that we are giving them and saying to them look we are in pretty bad strait’s here so we can certainly appeal to them but we are also getting on our bike and we have for instance been going to the Canadian governments, the European union and what we are saying to them is that we want you to help build capacity in the university and in the region in certain areas.”
These include Agriculture and food security, energy, ICT, tourism and governance.
And while seeking to reassure that UWI’s survival is not threatened, Professor Harris says that making what he calls terrible compromises will have negative effects.
“We can reverse the games of the last 10 years, the last year for instance the top universities of Brazil have come to meet us, the Canmore and they want to link with us. Some of the top universities in Colombia want to meet with us and we have a lot in American strategy right now, we are also reaching out to China we have established a relationship with China and countries in Africa so we are establishing a global presence but the question is you cannot have a global presence and not have the basic facilities and people that can make you a first class institution.”
Meantime, UWI’s Vice Chancellor wants regional governments to do more to help residents who are academically qualified to attend UWI but who do not have the financial means.
Professor Harris says tuition costs are about three thousand US dollars per student and for a parent making about 400 US dollars a month that is a lot of money to find.
“Governments need to put in place facilities either to give able students that cannot pay some sort of bursary or known systems with easy repayment terms so that they are able to get a university education and then can pay off during their working years.