UCCI reconsiders job cuts

The new leadership of the University College of the Cayman Islands is hoping to improve the institution’s perilous financial position without adopting some of the more radical cost-cutting measures recommended in a recent report. 

The report, “Towards a Viable UCCI,” recommended several courses be cut, the number of lecturers reduced by 25 percent, and the campus closed during the summer in an effort to save around $500,000 annually. 

Since the publication of that report in December, both Sheree Ebanks, the chair of the board of governors, and Linford Pierson, the deputy chair, have left their positions. 

Lemuel Hurlston, who took over as head of the board of governors at the end of March, said discussions had continued with UCCI staff on how to make the institution more financially viable. 

He believes the same level of savings can be achieved without resorting to such drastic measures. 

“Some of the original recommendations have been challenged and another perspective has been offered,” he said. “The faculty have come up with some recommendations of their own initiative. 

“We are looking at recommendations to raise revenue, not just cutting costs. We are not focusing on cutting any particular program or reducing staff.” 

He said the recommendations coming out of the report and the discussions with faculty would be reviewed individually and would either be dismissed or go forward to management for implementation. 

“This is a joint team effort and we are pretty confident we can improve the financial position. We may end up with a larger overall saving,” he said. 

Mr. Hurlston acknowledged that more could be done at the college to seek corporate partnerships and donations. 

“That will be part of the overall strategy going forward. 

“Education is everybody’s business and there are tremendous opportunities for course sponsorships. 

“There is more that can be done in developing partnerships and relationships so that education can be a shared burden and a shared responsibility.” 

The initial viability report suggested several courses are not financially viable, with some degree programs being delivered to as few as three students. 

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 accepted that cuts must be made to avoid the need to go back to government for supplemental funds. 

UCCI’s new leadership is examining how it can avoid cost cuts. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY