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Campus rising above hard times

shadiasimpson, shadiasimpson@nationnews.com

Added 07 January 2013

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Anyone who reads the newspapers or listens to various news broadcasts will be fully aware of the challenges facing several Western countries, our own Caribbean nations and institutions within our nations as a result of the lingering economic recession that started some five years ago. The article appearing in the WEEKEND NATION last Friday with the title Open Campus Hits Hard Times might easily have read The World Hits Hard Times. The article presents the UWI Open Campus as a singular institution in a landscape of economic challenge. This is not the case and the Open Campus is not in a state of collapse as the unidentified “source close to the NATION” seems to have implied. Most institutions have considered ways of trimming costs to manage through the recession and the Open Campus, as part of the university, considered several ways in which it would do so a few years ago. Most companies take steps to ensure their sustainability. Although some governments because of their own challenges in this climate may have been tardy with their subventions to the university, this does not mean that the Open Campus has not consistently met its obligations. It has found ways of keeping solvent, it has not reduced its staff complement nor its staff benefits and it has consistently paid salaries on time. In the month of December the university usually accommodates its staff by paying salaries a week or two early. In this instance salaries were due on the 19th and staff was paid on the 21st. The possibility of a slight delay resulted in a courteous note to staff, in advance, to make them aware of the late posting. Another point in the article relates to the statement about “reduction of sites”. A more accurate description of the development in the Open Campus would be “rationalisation of sites”. Our policy in this regard has never been to “reduce” staff but rather to train, upskill and redeploy our staff cohort based on our divisional needs. Several staff groups have undergone training and many have been deployed based on their skills and qualifications. The truth is that the campus has expanded, particularly in the area of its technical and academic staff, to accelerate the development of a broader slate of online programmes for areas in demand by various countries. The campus has sustained itself through global hard times that have affected most governments in our region and the institutions that depend on them. That it has done so is testimony to the resilience of its staff who remain committed to the strategic vision of the campus and the university.

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