Prime Minister Gaston Browne has criticised some Caribbean countries of harbouring “petty jealousies” for opposing moves by Antigua and Barbuda to become the fourth campus territory of the University of the West Indies (UWI) here in September.
“The technical committee of the university approved our university plan, unfortunately, you have some politics that is taking root now with some of the campus countries, if I may call them that, expressing concerns. They have all kind of fears, they have all kind of innuendoes and subterfuge they now bring to the fore,” Browne said in a programme on his private radio station over the weekend.
“All I want to say to them; they can jump high, jump low, we’re opening up the door of our university come September of this year,” he added.
Earlier this month, the UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, held talks with the government here regarding the opening of the fourth landed campus of the regional tertiary institution.
Government said then that the Five Islands Campus should be opened in September with at least 1,000 students and according to a Cabinet statement issued here, the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, was invited to Cabinet to announce the pending decision of the Accreditation Council.
“The Fourth Landed Campus of the University of the West Indies—the Five Islands Campus—is to be approved when the Council next meets in two weeks. The amount required annually, the Council will determine, is likely to be met by the Antigua and Barbuda authorities; the infrastructure is also in place to meet the tailored financial capabilities,” the statement noted.
The Cabinet statement noted that the discussion also focused upon staffing, meeting student satisfaction, building sporting facilities, and approaching friendly countries for assistance with expanding the university, noting “these topics were also addressed by the Cabinet and the Vice Chancellor”.
The UWI existing campus territories are Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and Prime Minister Browne told radio listeners that the campus here would be opened in September regardless of whether or not there’s support from other Caribbean countries.
“… if they put any obstacles in our way then we use another brand, it doesn’t have to be UWI. We have decided to go with UWI because we are integrationist at heart and we would expect their full cooperation.
“Just as how Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica have campuses to educate their people, we want the same thing within the OECS, and this is an initiative in which Antigua and Barbuda shall not relent” Browne said.
“They can have their concerns, that’s fine, but at the end of the day we have a campus that will be adequately funded by a tax… No other UWI campus has that source of dedicated income. Those who have their little petty jealousies they better put them aside,” he added.