Sun | Mar 29, 2020

Letter of the Day | Forge strategic university alliances

Published:Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM


The Gleaner of Saturday, September 8, 2018, reported the following:

"President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell has expressed his disappointment with The University of the West Indies (UWI), charging that the institution has failed to build and elevate the business class through research and development.

'I am disappointed that The UWI is not providing the data-control techniques, the data-management techniques, and the data-manipulation and analysis techniques that our business people so sadly lack, and our private sector is held back because we do not have, to a great extent, that talent internally,' said Mitchell in his keynote address to the Rotary Club of New Kingston breakfast meeting at the Altamont Court Hotel, St Andrew, yesterday."

I have to agree with Mitchell.

The fairly glaring shortcomings that he has fingered extend well beyond the fields of study which he specifically named at UWI. Perhaps one solution is to emulate what South Korea, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore etc. have managed to do. They have encouraged and facilitated their best universities to forge close structural/organic linkages

with some premier academic institutions at the heart of robust economies in the United Kingdom, United States, Holland, Germany and Japan.

Consider Singapore. In 2009, National University of Singapore (NUS) President Tan Chorh Chuan first floated the concept of a joint liberal arts college with Yale at the World Economic Forum in Davos, during a private meeting with Richard Levin, president of Yale.

Within 18 months, Yale-NUS was neatly set up as a college within NUS. Upon graduation, 90 per cent of the 2017 graduating class of Yale-NUS were already placed in jobs offered by industry, commerce, engineering, agricultural development research, academia, banking, etc. Of course, behind all this was the visionary strategising of the late Lee Kuan Yew.

Closer home, A-QuEST, our college-advising group, has sought to place some of our nation's brightest young leaders in such places (Read: Alexia Davidson of Hampton).




One of my dreams is of our own UWI to forged a link with Princeton University to form an academically super-rigorous college named 'Princeton-UWI' to be located on the gorgeous campus of CASE near peaceful Port Antonio in Portland, Jamaica.

I think that such alliances are a way to efficiently go about retooling and tailoring the offerings of our local tertiary institutions to meet the pressing, cutting-edge human-resource demands of our times.