Cut staff, courses to save $500k, says report
A new report recommends radical cost-cutting measures aimed at reversing the financial deterioration of the University College of the Cayman Islands.
Several courses should be cut, the number of lecturers reduced and the campus closed during summer, according to an internal report on the financial viability of the institution.
If all of the report’s recommendations are implemented, UCCI could save around $500,000 annually, according to Sheree Ebanks, chair of the board of governors.
The report indicates that several courses are not financially viable, with some degree programs being delivered to as few as three students.
Ms. Ebanks said changes are necessary to reduce the reliance on government funding and make the college more efficient and relevant.
Education Minister Tara Rivers has insisted that government grant funding will be maintained at current levels – just over $4 million of the total $7 million operating cost of the institution.
UCCI leaders accept that cuts must be made to avoid the need to go back to government for supplemental funds.
The report, which will now go through a review phase to determine which of the recommendations can be implemented, also suggests cutting around 25 percent of the full-time faculty in the next five years through “natural attrition.”
“When full-time faculty voluntarily leave UCCI, no full-time replacements should be hired. Instead, redistribute classes and hire adjuncts as needed,” the report recommends.
It also suggests getting rid of two dean’s posts and eliminating the roles of academic department chairs, suggesting UCCI has too much bureaucracy for a small teaching institute.
Another key recommendation involves eliminating the summer semester.
JD Mosley-Matchett, dean of graduate studies and professional development, said the campus could close during summer to save costs, without impacting students on multi-year degree programs.
She said study abroad and work placement schemes could replace classroom teaching, providing the same credit hours, without the need for the campus to be open in the summer term.
At least 30 courses should be offered less frequently or cut completely, the report recommends. It adds, “Increasing the number of our degree offerings has not resulted in an increase in our student enrolment but has instead resulted in additional new hires and increased overhead costs. Some programs with very few students barely cover the instructors’ salaries.”
Ms. Ebanks said the cutbacks would not impact the new hospitality school or nursing program. She said UCCI is looking to add more technical and vocational courses, but these would have to be financially self-sustaining.
The teacher training course at UCCI is one that will be maintained, despite being a loss-maker for the college, according to Ms. Ebanks. She said certain courses are of such value to the country that government has urged UCCI not to discard them. One key recommendation involves getting rid of a number of associate degree programs and channeling students toward the more expensive and academically more valuable bachelor’s degree programs.
Ms. Ebanks said, “I come from the private sector, and if somebody came to me with an associate degree, I’m really not going to pay much attention. I’m looking for at least a bachelor’s. I’m really looking for a master’s. An associate degree in this day and age is pretty much meaningless.”
The report calls for the elimination of associate degrees in business administration and suggests the institution offer only a four-year bachelor’s degree in business, with majors only in accounting and management sciences. The report, titled “Towards a Viable UCCI, Recommendations to Improve Institutional Efficiency and Fiscal Balance,” was produced by a joint study team comprised of members of the UCCI board, administration and faculty.
The group studied data on revenue, operating costs, student enrollment, faculty workload, graduation rates, graduate exit surveys and course offerings.
Their mandate, according to a statement, was to come up with comprehensive solutions to the “fiscal deterioration” of UCCI, which has experienced “shrinking revenues” for the past five years.
Roy Bodden, president of UCCI, said the exercise was necessary for the long-term future of the institution and would help reduce reliance on government funding.
“The exercise of introspection as documented in the viability report is valuable as an important step for the University College as it seeks international accreditation,” he said.