All campuses of the University of the West Indies (The UWI) have been urged to cut expenditure by 10 per cent over the next two years, as they continue to receive reduced funding from regional governments.
At the same time, all UWI entities have been tasked with consolidating academic programmes, adopting a robust out-sourcing methodology that targets non-core expenditures, and diving deeper into the digital culture in search of cost reductions and savings.
These are among the outcomes of a recent two-day executive management retreat held at the new Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the university, following discus-sions, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles approved a “Ten in Two Strategy” which is intended to achieve the agreed cuts.
In addition to the cuts, the Vice-Chancellor requested that operational units in-crease top-line revenue-generation by 10 per cent over the same period, to achieve a UWI-wide savings of approximately US$30 million.
The retreat also agreed to an “aggressive programme” to achieve five new targets over the next two years of the current strategic plan.
These are an intensification of cross-campus planning to drive digital transfor-mation; implementation of the university as a multi-lingual academy; consolidation of the UWI’s reputation as the global leader in climate action and advocacy; fast-track strategies to develop the entrepreneurial culture across The UWI system and to cultivate UWI Corporate as an effective brand; establishment of the UWI Global Online platform to offer programmes and courses internationally.
According to the statement, UWI, in the last two decades, has been challenged with rising levels of receivables from governments on account of the narrowing fiscal space associated with falling competitiveness and meeting International Monetary Fund conditionalities.
“The impairment of these debts and other write-offs in the last decade has meant a considerable loss to the university. To remedy this situation, prime ministers at the Caricom Heads of Government Meeting in Haiti last year agreed to assist with an assets-for-cash swap, a welcomed response that motivated the university to ac-celerate its comprehensive austerity programme,” the statement explained.
It said the retreat examined the first two years of The UWI’s performance within the context of its five-year ‘Triple A’ strategic plan 2017-2022 and concluded that there was need for even greater financial efficiency.
It acknowledged that “considerable strides were made on strategic outcomes such as research recognition, global impact and leadership, access to teaching and learning, and public accountability.”
“However, the university sees the economic sustainability of the region as its most important challenge, hence greater focus on the institution’s financial health to be an effective development partner,” it said.