In­sti­tu­tion’s stand­ing as univer­sity threat­ened

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - An­dre.poyser@glean­erjm.com

Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy. THAT FEWER than 15 per cent of the aca­demic staff at the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (UTech) have ob­tained ad­vanced de­grees con­tin­ues to be a con­cern for for­mer pres­i­dent, Pro­fes­sor Er­rol Mor­ri­son.

“There is a big dif­fer­ence in stan­dards – that is, what you are teach­ing and how you teach it – and stand­ing, which is how the univer­sity is viewed by its peers lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally,” Mor­ri­son told The Gleaner.

I think the stan­dards at UTech are there, but the stand­ing is threat­ened be­cause of the fall­out that is hap­pen­ing and there needs to be some quick but­tress­ing.

“I think the stan­dards at UTech are there, but the stand­ing is threat­ened be­cause of the fall­out that is hap­pen­ing, and there needs to be some quick but­tress­ing,” he con­tin­ued in re­sponse to the fact that a large num­ber of aca­demic staff at UTech are still with­out a ter­mi­nal de­gree.

US­ING SCARCE RE­SOURCES

A re­port on the univer­sity’s fi­nan­cial af­fairs sub­mit­ted to the Public Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee (PAAC) of Par­lia­ment re­vealed that the univer­sity has been us­ing scarce re­sources to up­grade the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of its staff, but the cost has be­come pro­hib­i­tive.

The re­port also pointed out that many staff mem­bers sent over­seas to study do not re­turn, while oth­ers serve out their bonds and re­sign im­me­di­ately af­ter.

Another is­sue af­fect­ing the low PhD count at UTech is an in­abil­ity of the univer­sity to at­tract qual­i­fied aca­demics be­cause of low wages.

Mor­ri­son said while he led UTech, he sought to im­ple­ment a ro­bust pro­gramme to up­grade the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the aca­demic staff but was met with strong re­sis­tance from the staff union.

Point­ing to UTech’s tran­si­tion to univer­sity sta­tus, the for­mer pres­i­dent ar­gued that the process has not gone well, be­cause aca­demic staff which were re­tained from the Col­lege of Arts, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, have not taken up op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­vance their aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

This, he said, is partly to blame for the low level of re­search out­put high­lighted in the PAAC re­port.

“That is one of the fail­ings in the tran­si­tion process be­cause, at the Univer­sity of the West Indies, if you don’t have a PhD, the most you can get is what they would call an as­sis­tant lec­turer, which was only a one-year ap­point­ment, and I don’t even think they of­fer that any­more. And, even if you have your PhD and you are not pub­lish­ing, you will be called up, be­cause in academia the creed is pub­lish or per­ish,” he said.

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