UWI to slash budgets as COVID takes toll

The University of the West Indies (UWI) plans to make significant budget cuts as it charts the way forward in a COVID-19 world.

Vice-chancellor Prof Sir Hilary Beckles made the comment as he delivered his report on the university’s future operation in a live broadcast on UWItv.

Beckles said UWI will soon be presenting COVID budgets that will see massive cuts in its expenditure to its University Grants Committee (UGC) for approval.

He said the virus has serious implications for the Caribbean region and there would be no avoiding these ramifications for how Caribbean people conduct their lives going forward.

“There is no doubt that the governments and people of this region must continue to see this pandemic as an existential threat to Caribbean civilisation,” Beckles said.

He said the region is now facing a “triple C” threat—of climate change, chronic disease and COVID-19.

“This region has lost over US$30 billion in the last five years on account of the challenges of hurricanes. We are losing some US$1.5 billion a year in our containment and management of the chronic disease pandemic and COVID-19 is estimated to decimate some 20 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) accounting for near US$16 billion,” Beckles said.

He said with all the issues facing the region and its governments struggling to cope, the university is still owed money from different governments and has been operating on a deficit in its consolidated financial accounts.

Beckles said the university intends to keep an intimate relationship with the governments in the region to work out these financial issues.

However, he said at a retreat six months before the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s management decided to cut its expenditure from critical areas of its operation.

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