Study Points To Need For More Investment In Tertiary Education


A study on the return on investment in tertiary education in Jamaica has pointed to the need for more spending in the sector to boost economic growth.
The study entitled: ‘Private and Social Return to Investment in Tertiary Education in Jamaica’ was prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and was launched on Wednesday, February 4 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Presenting the findings to members of the public and the education sector, Dr. Vanus James, Senior Policy Advisor at UNDP and team leader, said the research found that while the private return on investment in university education (typically the three-year Bachelor’s degree) was a 19.45 per cent, Jamaica saw only about 12.3 per cent in social returns.
“The results suggest that it is beneficial for individuals to invest in tertiary education and suggests that the current level of private investment is inefficient in the sense of being too low. Significantly more investment can and should be profitably undertaken,” the report said.
Currently, tertiary education contributes about 2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but available evidence suggests that to facilitate improved competitiveness and take further advantage of potential private and social returns, tertiary education will have to undergo substantial reform.
The research also said, that Jamaica loses about US$20 million annually because of the number of tertiary professionals who emigrate without repaying the cost of their education.
On secondary education, the report also called for greater emphasis on vocation education, noting that the average income of a HEART/NTA graduate was higher than the return to a graduate from the normal high school system.
Dr. James attributed this to the “vocational orientation competency focus of the education at HEART/NTA” and credited Jamaica for the creation of the institution.
Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson said that the study was a welcomed one and was very timely. Adding, “it will give us some informed view points now about tertiary education”.
She said the role of the state was not just to finance education but to also create enabling environments, including providing additional classroom space.
Addressing the suggestion that Government should push vocational training, the Minister said, “I like this argument about vocational training. I see nothing wrong with vocational studies. Let us think about the philosophy of education that we are pursuing and don’t think that everybody has to have a narrow specialist skill.”
The study was commissioned and financed by the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Students’ Loan Bureau, HEART/NTA, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

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