The chairman of the University College of the Cayman Islands Board of Governors said he believes a letter from the Office of the Attorney General gives the board the authority to control the school’s course and program offerings. The board had sought clarification on that authority when it sent a letter last December to the solicitor general.

The letter was the outcome of a conflict between the board and the Ministry of Education over language that had been included in the annual purchase agreement between the two agencies. UCCI officials were concerned that the language in question gave the ministry final authority over what courses and programs could be added or discontinued at the college. Such language, they said, would be a disqualifying factor in obtaining the international accreditation the board was exploring at the time.

The board did not provide a requested copy of the letter to the Cayman Compass.

In a statement to the board, Chairman Tony Ritch wrote, “This response provides much needed clarity and strongly supports the board’s understanding of its statutory responsibilities.”

Mr. Ritch said further discussion among the board and with the ministry is necessary to establish more effective collaboration on the issue. But he said he was pleased the attorney general had supported the position of the college and that it would help when UCCI restarts efforts to obtain international accreditation after the first of the year.

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“We have the clarity we sought,” he said. “I believe it supports our view.”

The Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Ritch discussed the letter at Wednesday’s board of governors meeting. It was also announced at the meeting that over half a million dollars was being infused into the campus between now and the end of the year on capital improvement projects. “We have received approval for $555,000 as a variation of the original nursing building allocation,” said Ansel Tempral, the board’s consulting chief financial officer.

He said two meetings had already been held to begin the process of preparing contracts for a list of 11 projects, including replacing air conditioning units, upgrading computers and a roofing project.

The funds were originally part of $1 million approved over two years for the construction of a new nursing building on the campus. That project was delayed in June due to plans by the National Roads Authority to widen the road in front of the campus to accommodate increased traffic once the new John Gray High School is completed. The widening meant there would not be enough space for parking for the new building in its planned location. Work is under way to reassess the placement of the building.

Mr. Ritch said if the funds – he estimated about 70 percent of the $1 million had been allocated for this year – were not used, they would be returned to the ministry’s general fund. So the board requested using the money for some long-overdue improvements to the campus and received a good chunk of it.

A sum of $85,000, will be spent on replacing and upgrading computer servers. Another $90,000 will be spent on new air conditioning units in areas where concerns have been raised about potential mold issues. The same areas will get $70,000 worth of insulation.

Other projects include $80,000 for computers and smartboards, $40,000 for technical and vocational education, $40,000 for student center improvements, $25,000 for WiFi upgrades, $35,000 for project management and $15,000 for professional services for the new nursing school.

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