PM says fourth campus issue has become “political”


Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said the decision regarding Antigua and Barbuda becoming the fourth landed campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has become a political issue.

Browne, speaking on Pointe FM over the weekend, said as far as he is concerned “all the University Council was required to do,” when it met here recently “was to ratify the decision for the opening of the campus.

“But you have certain individuals, certain members of the Council who turned the issue into a political issue. It ought not to be a political issue. For the last 18 months we have been negotiating with UWI to establish the Fourth Landed campus here,” Browne told radio listeners.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (File Photo)

Browne said based on the feedback he has received Jamaica appears to be opposing the establishment of the campus.

“Most of the Council members supported the proposal, but you had a situation which I am told that at least one of the delegates from Jamaica stated that as far as they are concerned if there’s a need, then Jamaica would expand their campus and I understand that the delegate for Barbados questioned what was going to happen to the Barbados campus if OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) students are going to come to Antigua and not go to Barbados.

“When you are taking a political decision to undermine a developmental policy of my government then I have to be very firm and if (Barbados journalist) Sanka Price and others consider it to be arrogance, well guess what it is developmental arrogance to ensure the development of the people of this country”

In a column published in the Nation Newspaper in Barbados, Price wrote that Caribbean governments continue, unfortunately, to approach regional issues in an insular manner when a united voice would be more effective.

“Sadly, this is a throwback to the one-upmanship style that was pervasive in early post-colonial days. That approach has retarded the region’s holistic development and allowed larger countries and multinational corporations to play us against each other to secure generous concessions and other sweetheart deals,” Price wrote in the article headlined “Browne is not helping with unity”.

He said that “it is shameful that in the 21st Century some leaders still peddle this approach which may bolster their political base and national image, “but does nothing to strengthen us as a bloc to be reckoned with if we spoke and voted as a unit at international fora.

“The most consistent practitioner of this antiquated approach is Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne. And his blunt, uncompromising statement last weekend on establishing a university campus in Antigua once again demonstrated this style.”

Price said that Browne’s statements smack “of an insular perspective, demonstrates why Browne’s approach is backward. For the Anglophone Caribbean to achieve its true potential, it needs more enlightened leadership than this”.

Browne told radio listeners that “we can’t allow people to come and bring regional politics into this decision,” regarding the campus.

The government said then that the Five Islands Campus should be opened in September with at least 1,000 students.

The UWI existing campus territories are Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

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    • The ‘UWI’ brand is useless, it sounds like a university that issues fake degrees. Let’s have a doctoral-level university called the National University of Antigua – NUA. Forget UWI and build a NUA.

      Seriously, UWI is a lousy university and we can do better than them. PM Browne, please let’s stop begging UWI and let’s build our own globally recognized university.

      • 1. Did u go to university?
        2. do you have any idea the cost, the requirements and infrastructure necessary to set up a branch of UWI much less a full university.
        3. UWI has existed for decades and cant get any recognition despite being a fully accredited and awarded university it i s looked down upon. Why would NUA do better, when its campus is smaller than and less equiped than most secondary schools in Trinidad much less globally.

      • Who would accredit us? Think about it!
        Sanitation below health standards, classroom environment not conducive to learning, structure not adequate to house amphitheatre, lack of technical equipment only to name a few are what’s lacking! Full campus? Where are the dormitories?
        I thought so!

  1. What is political about Antigua not being able to afford or run a university. The cost of living here is exorbitant. The roads need to be finished and Mount St. John along with many other tax payer funded institutions are in dire need of sizable injections of funds to fix, make habitable, upgrade and buy supplies etc. Right now much of Antigua is beginning to look like a dirty unkempt ghetto in so many areas. Digging out the already stressed people for more monies to fund an on a whim university is just crazy at this time. Fix what needs to be fixed, pay the millions long time owed to UWI, open the Five Islands building as the much needed secondary school it was intended to be and then maybe consider an institution of higher education sometime in the hopefully more successful future.
    Fixing what needs to be fixed in Antigua will go a long way to ensuring the development, educational and otherwise, of the people that actually belong to this country.

    • Stfu u idiot maybe u are one of those 1% minority who can afford to send ur kids overseas but for those of us who are struggling it is nice to know we can achive our higher education here.

    • jeb the cost of living here is more than that of Barbados? Brethen with time, all good logic has been divorced from your statements. By the way you are aware that same Barbados is on a IMF program and currently has a debt to GDP ration of some 150% (twice ours). You complain of things of small things, one wonders when you will start standing up for A&B. We wil have the 4th landed campus.

      • Tenman, I never mentioned Barbados. I was referring to Antigua and you know that. Anyway I have to assume since you did not cross me on (in your opinion small things and I think far from it) the institutions in dire need of funds and the ghetto description that you did not (or cannot with integrity) disagree. There is nothing (IMO) dishonorable about getting help from the IMF…Mia Mottley walked into a terrible financial situation left by her too much socialism predecessors and she made a brave and necessary decision on behalf of her people and country to get help. It is already obvious from some of the comments that the mindset re. the university is that some mythical benefactor (which will be we the public) is going to pay for this higher education and I am saying we are already struggling with the cost of living and cannot afford to pay more. I also think that these “mindsets” have absolutely no conception of what universities cost to equip and run and not least of all pay the professors all found salaries on time that are worthy of their necessary qualifications. It is most definitely not just the 1% that send their children abroad to university. There are many parents with average incomes who do this for their children who have achieved the necessary grades to be accepted. As you know not every child is a whiz kid so Antigua State College needs mucho funds to come out of disgraceful neglect and be upgraded to properly offer much needed technical skills. BTW I am standing up for A&B just not in the language that you want to read.

        • Barbados has a University of the West Indies campus. The cost of living there is higher than ours. However they will tell you they have benefited greatly from UWI and would never let it go. It has aided them greatly in improving their human capital. You claim we don’t have the room to garner sufficient taxes to fund said university. Fact is in Barbados (26%) and Jamaica (26.2), their tax to GDP ratio is higher than ours (16.5%). In other words they pay more taxes, so brethren yes we have the room, especially for something this important. I have already provided you the stats to prove we are not as indebted as Barbados. UAB will help provide some of the solutions we need for our educational system (eg better teachers). I like you had doubts about this all and felt we needed to fix some other educational related issues before this move. However, my fears ended with our decision to partner with UWI while the bitter one Juno Samuel was pushing that we start from scratch. It dealt with my accreditation fear. I then recognized that a university would offer us the added scope of growing the economy (more skilled persons, hence higher capacity for earnings). You if you are honest would admit this is needed, so why continue to place it on the back burner?

  2. The Prime Minister is right. Petty political minds have caused too much destruction in this region. Jamaica should know better. Their people coming here in droves to get away. Leave us alone and let us get on with educating the masses. The University of the West Indies belong to us all, not just Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. Antigua stand up! Antigua rise up! The People are behind their Prime Minister on this one. Even the opposition is. Let us get on with it. Forward Ever! Backward Never!

    • I bet you would change your tune fast if the PM’s windfall tax to pay for this university was coming out of your pocket 😉

      • You’re so right. To maintained this University it is going need some serious cash flow and what better way to do it but increases taxes.

  3. Mr PM a university is a need. Thank you for fighting to make it possible.

    UPP has found themselves on the wrong side of history.

    We must start somewhere and make improvements as we go along. National pride

  4. I support this initiative of having our own university because it’s about time we step up and solidify our presence in this regard.
    I am certain that in due course the entire nation and the OECS will thank the prime minister for this 4th landed campus.

    As it relates to other Caricom territories that are making this issue political, oh well, what’s New??? Caridun in my opinion…………

  5. I am surprised that ANR has not written an article about Lamin Newton’s position on the proposed university. They certainly gave publicity to Gisele Isaac and her diatribe.

  6. I read the article by Sanka Price and it was an unadulterated attack on Gaston Browne. He was more concern about scoring cheap shots than with the real serious issues gripping the Caribbean. What Antiguans should recognize is that certain jobs in this country are being filed by Jamaicans, B’jans and Trinies because they have the facility of a hometown campus.

  7. Out of the estimated 1,000 that will be enrolled in the Five Island UWI Open Campus, nine hundred (900) will be Jamaican nationals.

  8. I wonder why ANR not reporting on the story with Lamin Newton and his stance on the Fourth Landed Campus of UWI here in Antigua. I mean isn’t that news to write about?

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