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UWI principal: Not enough resources to attract best

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Thursday, April 4 2013

WHILE grateful for the resources which have put the University of the West Indies (UWI) in a position of strength over the past 62 years, UWI St Augustine campus principal Prof Clement Sankat, said the university does not have enough resources to attract the best teachers and researchers in order to become a world-class institution.

“Unfortunately, UWI can’t afford that. We do have good staff but we do not have the resources to attract the very best because UWI’s remuneration is not in the league of other organisations,” Sankat said.

He made this observation yesterday at a UWI breakfast meeting at the Trinidad Hilton in response to tertiary education expert Jamil Salmi’s statement that talent — inclusive of students, researchers and faculty — abundant resources and favourable governance are necessary for an institute to be a top university.

Unfortunately, Salmi noted, there is a “global talent war” where all educational institutions of the world were competing to recruit the best in each field. He also warned against homogenisation, saying not everyone institution could be like Harvard and individual facilities must take pride in their uniqueness instead of comparing themselves with others.

“Rankings are very dangerous because they define this concept of excellence or a world class university. Dare to be different rather than try to copy everybody else,” Salmi advised. Commenting on the element of governance, Sankat said, although the process may be slow, UWI has a very good internal governance structure at all levels. “Because it’s a regional institution, 16 Governments sit on our University Council and that protects the university from any particular individual Government.”

According to Sankat, UWI was experiencing challenging financial times because of the contraction of the economy. Therefore, he said, it was important for the university to begin developing contingency plans, which, according to Salmi’s suggestion, should include fundraising.

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