UWI Mona Campus records ‘positive’ income for first time in 6 years

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UWI Mona campus principal Prof Dale Webber. –

The University of the West Indies Mona Campus has recorded a positive comprehensive income for the first time in six years. Campus principal Prof Dale Webber made the announcement at the campus’ annual Campus Council meeting on Monday.

He said the University had worked to bring its operational financial plan to life by reducing unnecessary expenses and finding more cash inflows, despite the additional concessions given on tuition payment plans.

“Due primarily to a material favourable premium rate change in the pension re-measurement through OCI, for 2021 Mona recorded a surplus in comprehensive income of J$467 million (US$3.04 million) or a JA$1.5 billion improvement over the 2020 loss of JA$1 billion. This is the first time since 2015 that the Mona Campus recorded a comprehensive income surplus.”

He said the measure was achieved through several cost-saving initiatives. According to the report which he presented, these included: the merger of the International Office and the admissions section; following recommendations made by the vacancy monitoring committee about when and how to fill vacancies; harmonisation of the assessment of doctor of medicine programmes; efforts to close the Centre for Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Bahamas; cutting cost at the Social Sciences Faculty office; and reduction in library costs, among others.

UWI vice chancellor Prof Hillary Beckles said Webber had focused correctly on the number one issue facing the university, which is how to monetise the reputation it has built.

“This requires a step-by-step process, first we build the reputation of the university, partner with like-minded fine institutions. We have finally arrived at that moment where the top priority is the financial health of our institution based on the fundamental assumption that our governments will continue to struggle, which places more responsibility on our university administrators and skilfully pursue our entrepreneurial strategy. While we are a public university for the collective development of our people, that also imposes on us the responsibility to be business-like in our affairs and the management of our scarce resources.”

Beckles said the campus will learn to live within a balanced budget. He commended the campus for cutting its expenditure by ten per cent over the past year.

He said there were three issues which had driven the university into debt in the past. The first was government receivables.

“The second was the impairment of the receivables which has leaked millions of dollars off the university’s balance sheet, and the third was the unfunded pension liability that serves as a brick around the neck of the institution. The University Grants Committee (UGC), chaired by Barbados PM Mia Mottley, has asked Sagicor president Dodridge D Miller, who is a well-known actuary, to recommend a strategy to the UGC on how the liability can be addressed.”

Beckles said the war between Russia and Ukraine would drive the region further into negative circumstances.

Campus Council member Earl Jarrett said it broke his heart to see what was happening with Jamaican students in Ukraine.

“Could we look towards providing support to our more needy students so they won’t have to go to such far away places to study and suffer as they do?”

More than 20 Jamaican students had to flee Ukraine when war broke out, where they were studying as it was cheaper than to study in the Caribbean.