By Carl Joseph
Prime Minister Gaston Browne took the opportunity at the signing ceremony between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) and the People’s Republic of China on Monday to alert China’s Ambassador Sun Eng that he will be making a formal request for US $20 million.
The signing ceremony was for a housing grant, geared primarily toward the Government’s Affordable Housing project worth approximately US $11 Million and an education grant toward a multimedia center at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Five Islands Campus of US $250,000.
Speaking directly to Ambassador Eng, Browne offered that, “I know that you’ve programmed this $11 million for housing, but I believe we need about $20 million to expand the university.”
“I don’t want to place any additional burdens on the People’s Republic of China,” Browne continued, “but I’ll be inviting you to dinner very shortly at my home and we have to have a discussion about how we can get some resources to advance the expansion of the University.”
Prime Minister Browne listed a number of expansion projects to the Five Islands campus to include: an additional room stock of 100 dormitories for students; additional administration facilities as well as an improved program offering in the coming years.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at the UWI Five Islands, Professor Stafford Griffith, explained that the plan for the campus is to expand the number of students attending the university several-fold over the next five years.
Professor Griffith indicated that the plan would be to, “double the number of students annually,” starting as of next year, “in the Five Islands Campus over the next 3 to 5 years. And that would bring us pretty close to what we would expect of a fourth-landed campus of a University of the West Indies.”
The campus principal also outlined a vision of developing the campus, “so that there is a buzz of activities which befits an excellent campus in this island.”
Professor Griffith said that he will be looking at, “things like a playground; student union offices; and other capacities for students to have recreational or related activities, so that we develop at Five Islands, what one might call a community… a student community.”