The University College of Barbados is still on the cards.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the establishment of this institution is still an absolute priority in the country’s development.
She made the comments on Wednesday at the renaming of the Barbados Community College Hospitality Institute to the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute and Hotel PomMarine, at Marine Gardens, Hastings, Christ Church.
Ms. Mottley told her audience: “Work has been ongoing and it almost hurts my heart to reflect that this planning work for the University College of Barbados has been going on since 2001, and that the framework for the different organisational arrangements was completed as far back as 2008. But when you inherit an economy that is literally beleaguered, you have to make difficult choices.
“And the first choice that we made is that it was more important for us to guarantee access to our young people to our educational institutions before we started to move with the creation of a new institution that could potentially have increased costs … by raising it to the level of a university college. It, therefore, carries with it certain other obligations that hitherto would not be carried…. I still believe that it is an absolute priority in our development as we go forward.”
The Prime Minister noted that it was partially Mrs. Holder’s vision which led Government to make the decision to establish the framework for the University College of Barbados.
She said it was critical that Government ensured that the Barbados Community College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology and Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, in the interim, continue to expand their programmes.
“But at some point, [there must be] the reality of us having a single institution dealing with the provision of applied arts and sciences, as opposed to simply the academic areas, which the University of the West Indies is better placed so to do. At some time, this must be a priority for the people and Government of Barbados.
“I had hoped, had we not faced COVID-19, that we would…be able to proceed with that as a great matter of urgency…. The continued work of this institution must be towards that bridge and towards being able to ensure that we continue to offer degrees in applied arts and sciences, as well as associate degrees,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley said one of her medium-term visions for the institute and Hotel PomMarine is for an expansion of the 20 rooms and other services offered to the tourism sector.
However, she stressed that this could only be done after officials dealt with the demand to enter the institution, as she pointed out that about 400 students were turned away yearly from accessing the training.
She expressed the view that the use of the digital platform should now give officials the ability to change that situation.
She underscored the importance of the hands-on training at the institute, saying it was necessary. “That is why we must work as circumstances, economically and financially, allow us to be able to undertake an expansion of this institute beyond the number of rooms it currently has. We think that 24 years later that the time is right … for [the Ministry of Education] to start planning the next stage of how we can continue to expand,” she said.
The Prime Minister told the gathering that the Barbados Welcome Stamp Programme had continue to garner great attraction and success for the country and it was necessary for it to continue on that trajectory as the country goes forward.
During her address, Ms. Mottley praised Jean and Norma Holder, saying they gave their all and best to building this nation and region.
She noted that their contributions were in the areas of the tourism and hospitality sector, education, aviation, culture and diplomacy, and expressed the view that Barbados “owes a serious debt of gratitude” to them.