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Misinformed editorial on UWI

Published:Friday | January 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The editorial of January 20, titled 'Sprucing up Mona', once again highlights the regrettably small proportion of students who graduate from the science and technology disciplines at that institution. As a retired University of the West Indies (UWI) staff member, I can attest to the fact that this has been a matter of concern for several years and know that there have been initiatives towards changing the status of affairs.

While I expect that spokespersons from Mona will make some appropriate response, I point to the limited number of high-school graduates with the necessary university entry qualifications in science subjects as a significant causal factor that results in limited graduates in those disciplines. I am, however, particularly concerned at your misinformed statement that "over 70 per cent of graduates are from the humanities and education".

Out of respect for your long-established publication (which is exactly 100 years older than I am!), I consulted with Wikipedia to see if, somehow, I did not understand how broadly the term 'humanities' can be applied. I came away reassured that the academic disciplines that are referred to under that heading are seldom to be confused with what in universities throughout the world are acknowledged to constitute the body of studies known as the social sciences.

Social sciences account for 50 per cent

At Mona, the Faculty of Social Sciences has, for a number of years, graduated nearly 50 per cent of the students (sometimes more), with the Faculty of Humanities and Education being responsible for less than half of that proportion. The principal disciplines covered in the five departments/centres of the social sciences include economics, statistics, political science, public sector management, international relations, accounting, management studies, human resource management, hotel and tourism management, anthropology, demography, psychology, sociology, and social work. These fields are surely recognised as making important and distinctive contributions to the development process.

While the urgency for more graduates in the pure and applied and medical sciences, in the agricultural and engineering sciences goes without question, I am sure that your readership will have a very different impression of the UWI from the information presented here, than from your assertion that nearly three-quarters of graduates were from the disciplines of history, english, communication arts, modern languages, philosophy, theology (i.e. the humanities) and educational studies. They also have an important role, but should obviously not constitute a disproportionately large proportion of the university's offerings

I am etc.,