UWI holds its ground on PAAC request
Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, says the university is only prepared to seek clarification from Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) when it appears before the committee on Wednesday, November 9.
Beckles, in an interview with Gleaner Business, said UWI hopes it will not be pressed to provide details on its financials, which it was requested to do a few weeks ago, as this would breach the long running protocol that governs how the UWI reports to the government.
“Eight times a year the campuses report to the governments. We report to the ministries of education and finance. We have never been called to leap over the head of the government and report to the parliament, that is not how it must be done,” Beckles said of the university’s reporting responsibility.
He maintained that over the last 68 years “it was understood that the UWI is not a government agency,” and because of this, the university has never reported to parliament in any of its regional contributing countries.
“Because the parliaments in the region all agreed that the university will report to the governments as opposed to parliaments. It’s the government’s role to report to the parliament,” he said, while affirming that the request UWI to report to the PAAC was made “in error”.
“The university will come to seek clarification, in other words we are not going to report to the PAAC because we have no legal [obligation],” Beckles said maintaining the stance the university took in October when it was requested by the PAAC to explain how it has been spending government’s allocations to the UWI’s budget.
What's more, with the reduction in government’s funding to the UWI over the years, UWI Mona “should be given a pat on the back,” for standing so strongly on its own, he said.
“At the moment, the government is contributing just under 30 per cent to Mona’s budget. Compare that with Barbados where the government is contributing 50 per cent to Cave Hill’s budget and the Trinidadian government which is contributing 55 per cent to St Augustine’s budget …,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor adds that Jamaica’s contribution to UWI's regional budget has also shrunk.
“For 50 years the government of Jamaica made the largest contribution to UWI’s overall budget, but at the moment the government is contributing just under 20 per cent to the whole budget of the entire UWI,” said Beckles. “The university has responded to the request that we should reduce our dependence on them. They should be proud of the fact that the university has responded to this request,” he said.