UWI Told: Create Research Clusters

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Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler addressing last night’s??University of the West Indies’ Benefactors Awards Ceremony at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. (C. Henry/BGIS)

The University of the West Indies has been called on to create research clusters and advance those that could be considered critical to national development.

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, made the call while underscoring the importance of research as he delivered the feature address at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Benefactors Awards Ceremony, last evening, at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.

Mr. Sinckler told his audience: "What we put into the University and eventually put out into the community must reflect the fundamental needs of those societies. The 120 to 150 million dollars invested in the University campus by the Government of Barbados will mean absolutely nothing if it cannot provide individuals, professionals [and] graduates who can drive the new developmental agenda in Barbados in areas of agribusiness, renewable energy, climate change,the Blue economy and so on. These are the new areas to which we are looking for a plethora of skills to advance in."

He proffered the view that if some of these opportunities are to be secured, Cave Hill Campus must continue to initiate more Memoranda of Understanding with other universities, governments and international organisations, among others.

He said: "As Minister of Finance, I am eager to state that such partnerships will be at the centre of the Ministry’s attention, both for financial and technical support, as we move towards building out new pathways for development, not only with the campus and university, but of course for Barbados."

Acknowledging that access to education at all levels had been a key factor in the success of Barbados as a society and an economy, the Minister reaffirmed Government’s commitment to support the continued growth and development of the UWI and increase access to tertiary education for all Barbadians. He pointed out that Government has had to manage the economy during a recessionary period, when there were major increases in the cost of tertiary education.

He highlighted the 1999 to 2007 period and said the financial contribution in terms of economic costs of the Barbados Government to UWI, Cave Hill was $79.3 million, which was $28.3 million over the $51 million required in 1999.

"However, between 2007 and 2008 the annual contribution required from the Government of Barbados increased from $79.3 million to $120.5 million. The increase from 2007 to 2008 was greater than the increase for the period 1997 to 2007," he explained.

According to him, by 2010 the figure had peaked to BDS $133 million but it fell to $127 million by 2011. He continued: "The reality is that the amount required in the last four years was almost even to that required in the previous nine years. The figures suggest that even as there is a global recession and the Government of Barbados is seeing reduced incomes on its revenue and facing bigger challenges, our commitment to the UWI has increased.

"Despite the rising costs and the economic challenges, the Government has made major sacrifices and has sought to provide the campus with as much of the required funds as it could, and…we have concluded arrangements to clear the debt owed to the campus in short order."

But, Mr. Sinckler urged the management of the UWI to continue building a culture of engagement with all its benefactors and leverage the institution’s core competencies to achieve competitive advantages that would facilitate the development of national enterprise. He expressed confidence that Cave Hill was well positioned to play a leading role in the fertilisation and growth of that development agenda.

Cave Hill Campus is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and it saluted its benefactors during the ceremony and??presented 55 awards. Those awarded included Sagicor Financial Corporation, Innotech Services Limited, Sol (Barbados) Ltd, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Goddard Enterprises Ltd, Cave Shepherd & Co. Ltd, and a number of government and statutory agencies. The private individuals honoured included Eddie and Vanessa Edghill, who generously donated 28.3 acres of land, realtor Paul Altman and businessman Andrew Bynoe.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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