While there is a role for Government in higher education that includes the building out of human resources, equipping them with competencies and tools to carry projects forward, others too must play their part.
This was emphasised today as Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, addressed the opening of the 16th Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA), at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Needham’s Point, St. Michael.
Noting that there needed to be more partnerships and alliances, Minister Jones said: “We need a lot more of those but we need to move past the selfishness of many businesses in the region; there is a high degree of selfishness in many businesses of the region; so, if they give you $10,000, they feel they give you the world; but yet they take their monies from the people of the region.”
He acknowledged the region was carrying a substantial burden and stressed its people had a high degree of creativity, understood issues of space and vulnerabilities but should become conversant with new tools and technologies.
According to him, those who did not know technology had to get familiar with it and those who provided such services also had a role in helping higher education.
“We have to say to all of those who provide communication services across the region that as [they] sell those services to higher education that sometimes you would have to moderate the charges that you give and you have to give good service because this is the platform now that we will be relying on…we all need innovation and initiative, creativity, all that in higher education has to be looked at within the context,” said Mr. Jones.
Meanwhile, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, Professor, Luz Longsworth, addressed the need for higher education administrators to utilise information technology to access more students and transform university processes.
“There is no reason why we could not have a regional platform that would allow applicants from high school and colleges and other universities to be able to transfer from one institution to the next to do a course here and there and move the process forward…. Even if we want to move from UWI to Utah, there is a transfer process…. Why couldn’t we look at the technology to do that kind of seamless collaboration that would allow our students to have a better experience? The technology exists for us to collaborate among ourselves to allow for that sharing of information”.
Dr. Longsworth challenged the educational administrators to combine their efforts in advocating for the creation of this sort of technological collaboration among member institutions. “If we are to increase access at the pace that the region needs it, we must examine each of our processes – our recruitment processes; our admissions processes; our registration and payment processes; it is a different world,” she surmised.
The aim of the ACHEA conference is to engage experts and the public in discussion to deepen their understanding of the ways in which educational institutions, the public and private sector and administrators can work to ensure the Caribbean adapt and thrive as their context changes.