CMI head cries as House approves university status
Dr Fritz Pinnock, the executive director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), shed tears on Tuesday as he watched lawmakers approve legislation to grant university status to the 37-year-old institution. "It has been a journey. It is more than just getting to university status. It is about changing the education and training landscape. Today is a victory for the young people without a voice. I couldn't help but shed a few tears in there. I saw our country moving on an issue that was not politics," he said.
The Caribbean Maritime University Act, 2017 sailed through the House of Representatives as lawmakers from both sides gave passionate presentations hailing the institution's history and its status as the only accredited institution in the English-speaking Caribbean to provide maritime training.
The bill is heading to the Senate for debate and approval, paving the way for CMI's upgrade to the Caribbean Maritime University by year end.
Pinnock said that the new status would help with the institutions branding and in attracting funding for its programme. "People are leaving as brands and you want to enrich their brands. There are a lot of funds that we could not access even with the European Union [because] some funding is reserved for universities. The status will make us more globally competitive."
Since he assumed leadership in 2007, the CMI's student population has grown from 300 to over 3,000, a situation that triggered concern from the auditor general in a 2016 report that questioned whether there were adequate resources to match the intake.
Phillip Paulwell, member of parliament for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal in which the CMI falls, emphasised that the CMI sticks to its core areas. "I have no doubt that this status to the CMI will not lure them into the ambition of being all things to everybody. I'm sure you're not going to see any lawyers coming out of CMI anytime soon."
Mike Henry, the transport minister who piloted the bill that started in the previous administration, said the new status would ensure that Jamaica's demands for shipping and seafaring skills to serve areas such as logistics are met.
About 87 per cent of CMI graduates are employed or start higher studies within six months after leaving, according to a CMI trace study.