We are not declining out west – UTech official
Although the University of Technology (UTech) has closed down its campus at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, near Falmouth, the university plans to maintain a strong presence in western Jamaica through its Montego Bay-based campus.
Michelle Beckford, the communications manager for UTech, told The Gleaner that although the university had shut down the campus at the Trelawny stadium, the school's offering of programmes to its students in western Jamaica has not been hindered.
"The Trelawny campus was just classrooms, and everything that existed before still exists in another location, as there is another campus in Montego Bay," said Beckford, in reference to UTech's Montego Bay campus, which is split between its locations at Kent Avenue and another location at Barnett Clinic, along Barnett Street.
No decline in offerings
"So, there has been no decline in the programme or in the offerings (degrees); all the offerings that were there before are still there, it is just not at that location (the stadium) anymore," added Beckford.
Beckford's declaration of confidence in UTech's capacity to stay relevant and influential in the west, somewhat contrast the position of councillor Garth Wilkinson, the mayor of Falmouth. At a recent Gleaner editor's forum in Falmouth, the mayor stated that the shutting down of the Trelawny campus was a lost opportunity to turn Falmouth into a university town.
"With all the development that is taking place (in Falmouth), UTech has now pulled out of the stadium and they are moving out of their other location on Trelawny Street, which is our biggest disappointment," Wilkinson stated at the time. "This is a blow to our plans for Falmouth."
In fact, in speaking to the kind of impact being a university town could have on Falmouth, the mayor said it had the potential to be much not bigger than the impact the Falmouth cruise ship pier is having on the popular seaside town.
"The Falmouth port would pale in comparison if we had a university town," said Wilkinson. "We are hoping the university would rethink its decision to leave the town of Falmouth."
UTech made its initial sojourn into Falmouth in November 2012 with a lofty promise to invest more than J$250 million to develop its campus at the US$30-million Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, which has basically been a white elephant since it was constructed to host the opening ceremony of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Before that 2012 offer, UTech had made a previous offer in 2010 to invest J$250 million to develop a university campus on a property adjacent to the stadium, on condition that they would be allowed to use the stadium facilities. That offer was rejected by the Government.
Interestingly, at that time, Richard Bourke, who was then the president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, supported UTech's proposal, saying that it would bring significant spin-off benefits to the parish, including boosting commerce and housing construction.