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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Based on how discussions between the Ministry of Education and the executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses’ Association pan out today, the country’s healthcare services could be seriously affected.

That’s because nurses are threatening to embark on a nationwide protest on Monday if they have no favourable response regarding their concerns about nursing lecturers at the University of the West Indies’ Five Islands Campus.

ABNA president Soria Dupie-Winston accused the campus of attempting to disenfranchise lecturers at the School of Nursing.

UWI is currently advertising tutoring positions for which candidates must hold a doctorate.

But Dupie-Winston told Observer that the positions are already filled by nurses who hold master’s degrees.

“The lecturers are being asked to have a doctorate to lecture. We know in nursing school, while teaching a bachelor’s programme, the lecturers don’t have doctorates. We won’t stand for it. We will protest. We will do what we have to do,” Dupie-Winston said.

She claimed the raising of the bar would force locals out of the roles which many rely on to supplement their income.

But in a statement released today, UWI says its intention is merely to improve the university’s offerings, and that it is seeking to fillcritical vacancies in teaching and research.

“All current staff have an equal opportunity to submit applications,” officials said.

But the existing tutors say that most of them only hold master’s degrees and they fear their applications will be considered less favourably than those from overseas with higher qualifications.

UWI said however that it will give careful consideration to all candidates.

The positions were advertised internally across all of its campuses including Five Islands – along with local, regional and international media – in order to attract the largest pool of talent from which to make a final selection, the UWI statement said.

This approach, it says, will ensure that the Antigua-based campus benefits from the finest people in the field.

Officials said the process is in line with all world-class academic institutions when filling faculty vacancies.

“To this end, the university continues to exhibit transparent, ethical and accountable practices in its operations to ensure it acquires the highest quality human resources to assist it in achieving its mission and vision as laid out in its strategic plan,” the statement continued.

It added that opportunities would be provided for local talent to grow.

The campus launched operations in September and comprises three schools focusing on humanities and education; health and behavioural sciences; and management, sciences and technology.

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