Tue | Nov 20, 2018

The UWI considers alternative funding models

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A security guard mans the entrance to The University of the West Indies, Mona campus in St Andrew, on Tuesday, August 21.

The University Grants Committee (UGC) of The University of the West Indies (UWI) met in a special session at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Mona, Jamaica on November 1 to receive the special report of a task force commissioned to examine alternative models of university funding in light of the challenges facing the existing arrangements.

The UGC meeting was chaired by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment of Barbados Mia Mottley, and attended by government representatives of the UWI's contributing countries, along with members of the university's executive management. They discussed and explored innovative ways to ensure the financial sustainability of university research, teaching, and community service for the future.

Prime Minister Mottley, with 20 years of experience in the financial affairs of the university, expressed concern for its financial health and provided expert insights and leadership in respect of the task force's recommendations. Among her critical contributions, she called for the establishment of a University Trust Fund to manage the UWI's wealth potential. This, she suggested, may be initially capitalised if the governments agree to provide physical assets and other revenue-performing assets in lieu of cash. This will help the university in terms of having some of the governments' receivables settled.

Mottley noted, "Many governments pledged to look at the settling of some of their arrears in the next few months. In the medium term, however, the university currently has three primary sources of income on which it relies. While it continues to strengthen its potential in these areas, it should, as it goes global, have the ability to receive gifts of land and shares from governments and individuals, especially graduates, to add to its corporate endowment programme. If this is ultimately agreed to by the University Grants Committee, the university should use the establishment of this trust to ensure that it can hold faith with its original mandate 70 years ago and keep the fees paid by governments and students at an affordable level. We will await, in the next few months the report of the expanded task force."

The special task force was established in 2017 in response to the mounting level of arrears owing to the university by regional governments. The task force is co-chaired by Professor Densil Williams, pro vice-chancellor, planning, the UWI, and Ravi Rambarran, group chief operating officer, Sagicor Financial Corporation, and comprises representatives of the private sector, contributing governments, student body and university executive management.