We applaud the University College of the Cayman Islands and President Roy Bodden, a former minister of education who has been a visionary and hard-working president who is committed to advancing UCCI. We also applaud Linford Pierson – a highly educated former permanent secretary of education, and the UCCI Board members, faculty and administration for the recent report. However there are hundreds of millions of dollars that should be cut from other less important excessive expenditures rather than education.
The timing of this exercise is unfortunate as UCCI is being assessed for accreditation.
We support and repeat some of the Cayman Compass’s Feb. 17 editorial. Government’s total budget is $744 million and UCCI’s annual budget is only about $7 million or 1 percent, and only $4 million is subsidy. Education in Cayman is free for Caymanians and higher education is as important and it needs to be subsidized as well.
Rather than damage UCCI by cutting its small budget, reduce Cayman Airways’s $20 million allocation. CAL only received a $4 million subsidy during our third and fourth governments ending in 2000, when annual tourism arrivals in the year 2000 were the highest until 2014. Reduce the Turtle Farm’s allocation or subsidy of $9.5 million. Reduce the civil service budget.
The PPM government largely wasted $47 million several years ago on the six unfinished buildings at the John Gray High School; the excessive expenditure on the $110 million Clifton Hunter School and its heavy annual recurrent cost hurt the public funds. UCCI got no such expenditure and UCCI is in need of upgrading the facilities largely built several decades ago by ours and past governments.
For many years, the predecessor to UCCI, the Community College, educated outstanding students at associate degree level. One example is Dr. Alexandra Bodden Psy.D., MA., MS.ClinPharm, Licensed Psychologist and Adjunct Lecturer at UCCI. She did her associate’s degree in sociology at the Community College and all of her credits other than one were accepted at the University of Virginia, one of the top U.S. universities, and she entered the third year there.
So please do not cut the associate’s degrees! The longest journey starts with the first step.
Quoting the Compass, when it comes to higher education in the Cayman Islands, “the watchword should be vision not viability.” Minister of Education Tara Rivers, we know that you are visionary, highly educated and capable, so please take an early stand for vision in higher education.