Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Dr. Ronald Robinson, has called for a more commercial approach to the provision of tertiary education in Jamaica.
“There has been a major shift, particularly since the 1970s, towards reducing Government funding for higher education, with moves towards greater competition and a commercial approach to education,” Dr. Robinson noted.
He said that commercialisation of educational services could lead to greater accessibility to tertiary education as, while there is a greater demand for tertiary education, there is limited space because of financial constraints on the part of the Government which subsidises the public institutions.
Dr. Robinson said that, if schools commercialise aspects of their programmes, students who qualify to pursue a particular course of study and are able to fully finance the programme but could not find space, could pay their way.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Dr. Ronald Robinson (left), chats with Senior lecturer at the Excelsior Community College, Angella Donaldson (centre), and Chairman of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE) and Principal of the Montego Bay Community College, Dr Angela Samuels- Harris, at the JCTE’s 18th Annual Conference, today (April 28) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, on the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus.
He was addressing the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education’s 18th Annual Conference, at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, today (April 28).
The conference was held under the theme: ‘Global Issues in Tertiary Education: Achieving Quality.’
“Where there are limited resources, we need to begin to think outside of the box in order to sustain the programmes, to sustain faculties and to improve on them,” he said
He pointed out that this has been successfully done in programmes at the UWI, such as in the medical faculty, and at the Mona School of Business, where some students pay the full cost of their education.
Senator Robinson noted that it was even more important to recognise that education is a tradeable commodity, within the context of the current global marketplace where there is a move towards liberalisation in all sectors.
He referred to the agreements under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the recently signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Community and CARIFORUM, which are trade agreements addressing education as a commodity.
The State Minister commented that most tertiary institutions were not adequately marketing their expertise.
“There are just so many areas that I think could be transformed by academic involvement, particularly in Government, and these are areas in which tremendous revenues can be earned for these institutions,” he said.
He lamented the fact that while overseas colleges are setting up campuses in Jamaica, Jamaican colleges were not doing the same abroad.
“Why not have an overseas campus in the United States of America?” Senator Robinson asked.
He challenged school administrators, at the conference, to rethink their matriculation requirements, to ensure that more persons can have access to tertiary education.