Tertiary institutions should stop duplication - Johnston ... says more joint programmes, shared services could make better use of scarce resources
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
A senior adviser in the Ministry of Education is calling for tertiary institutions across the region to consider rationalising certain aspects of their operations, as soon they will become untenable.
Dr Franklin Johnston, a management consultant, said in this time of austerity, institutions of higher education must cut back on some of the programmes and services they offer in an effort to eliminate replication across the sector.
"We have a situation of scarce taxes and unnecessary duplications … . The truth is, each [institution] wants and has a degree-granting structure, which is very often funded by the taxpayer, but these are, in fact, unsustainable in the current environment in which they are functioning," Johnston stated.
Addressing the second staging of the Caribbean Conference on Higher Education at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies (UWI) recently, Johnston said these institutions should find a way to share services and offer more joint programmes to better utilise the little resources they currently have.
Johnston said it was not beyond Jamaica to devise a similar strategy like that used by the public university system in New York in the United States.
In New York, there are two public-funded university systems: The City University of New York, which consists of 24 institutions, and the State University of New York, with 64 campuses across the city's five boroughs.
Johnston stated that Jamaica and the Caribbean region, which are smaller geographic spaces, should be looking to integrate and coordinate activities much like the system in New York.
"We have to look at why should you develop an infrastructure for offering degrees, and the administration it involves and printing your own little certificate with your own little crest on it, when, in fact, we have one of the most credible universities, certainly in the Caribbean and in the hemisphere, in the UWI.
"The UWI may be able to confer the degrees for all these institutions, because none of them have the credibility of the UWI," he argued.
He said the coordination of activities should also extend beyond just the degree programmes and facilitate the combining of administrative and technical activities at one set institution.
"This will certainly eliminate the need for several offices and employing several persons to do the same job. You have one central area and the work required is being done by one central team with the use of technology."