St. John’s Antigua- The Antigua Labour Party has threatened to take to Caricom the government‘s decision to refuse the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) permission to set up a local campus.
Describing it as “a tragedy,” Opposition Leader Lester Bird said the issue needs further attention.
UCC was partnering with the Antigua & Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABIIT) on the initiative that would have seen it begin operations here this month.
However, the Jamaica-based university was notified earlier this week by Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro that this would not be possible.
“What can be the basis on which the Ministry of Education can say that that is competition?” Bird questioned even as he stressed the importance of maintaining ABIIT’s integrity.
“Education can be competitive. It is flippant; and the reality is that we have to find some methodology by which we can put a stop to this kind of decision making that is going to affect our students for years to come,” Bird said on the opposition-aligned ZDK Radio last night.
“I feel very chagrined that they would turn down this university of the Caribbean. This is a matter that should be taken up at Caricom,” he said.
The ALP’s spokesperson on education Dean Jonas linked the refusal to the recent increase in fees at Antigua State College.
He said a local campus of the university would boost employment here, and reduce the cost of tertiary education since residents would not have to travel to pursue their area of study.
“Why is it that our premiere tertiary institution is doubling up their fees like this? Even within the Teacher Training Department, the increase is $1,000. And so, this is one of the things I don’t fully understand,” Jonas said
“Now UCC is coming in here as entrepreneurs to sort of help this economy, and hire people. The spin-off would be massive … because outside of Jamaica, Antigua is one of the first places they’re coming to do this.”