UWI snubs House
MPs push for reforms to make university answerable to Jamaican Parliament
JAMAICA’S ELECTED representatives, smarting from being snubbed by the University of the West Indies (UWI), now say that they will be pushing for necessary changes to ensure that the university, which, this year alone, is set to get funding that could cover two government ministries, is answerable to the Parliament.
Representatives of the university, which has a campus in Jamaica (Mona), the University of Technology, and the University Council of Jamaica were invited to appear yesterday before Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) to explain how they have been spending taxpayers’ money.
Section 73A of the Standing Orders, which govern the rules of the House of Representatives, empowers the PAAC to monitor government expenditure.
However, members were left stunned when the committee chairman, Dr WyKenham McNeill, read a letter from the university’s registrar, William Iton, which made it clear that the UWI had no legal obligation to appear before the Jamaican Parliament.
“Please be advised that the UWI is a public autonomous regional educational institution which serves 17 countries in the Caribbean,” Iton said in the letter dated October 10 to Dr Maurice Smith, permanent secretary in the education ministry.
“The university was established by (British) Royal Charter in 1962. The university therefore has to be distinguished from other agencies of your ministry,” the letter continued.
The royal charter makes the institution only legally answerable