Location of University of Antigua draws more criticism

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Outgoing President of the Antigua Christian Council, Father Reid Simon, is the latest critic of the location of the University of Antigua in Five Islands.
Following a related post that he made on social media, Father Simon told OBSERVER media that the former United States (US) Air Force Base (AFB) in Coolidge is a more suitable location for the university.
“I think it just takes technocrats to explore what is possible up at the Air Force Base and we can go from there,” he said.
The outgoing president continued that if the university were to be located at the US Air Force Base, a university town could be created in the area, which also houses the American University of Antigua (AUA) and the Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute (ABHTI).
“It has room for more expansion … creating a university town would allow it to grow over the years and blossom, but of course, this takes quite a bit of vision,” the Anglican priest said.
He added that the size of the former US Air Force Base is more appropriate if future expansion is to be made.
“I think geographically, Five Islands is in a closed area. It’s virtually one way in and the same way out,” said Father Simon. “For those of us who have been exposed to university towns or cities, you would realise the options of having access in and out to various ends.”
He also said that it would be more cost effective for the government to locate the university at the former base.
“A university needs space to expand. At Five Islands, there are private lands surrounding the school … you will have to buy them. Up at the base, even though the lands are owned by Social Security, you have more government involvement and readily available lands and monies that you wouldn’t necessarily have to spend as you would to acquire private lands.”
The United Progressive Party and the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers have also been in opposition to the Five Islands facility, which was built by the former administration to house a secondary school, being repurposed to be a university.
Early last year, at the handover and signing ceremony, Prime Minister Gaston Browne responded to critics and firmly stated that the Five Islands location is the most appropriate one for the University of Antigua. He also stated that those who made those recommendations were not familiar with the former US base.
The university is scheduled to open in September 2018.

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