University of the West Indies Vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, says they will freeze all new appointments and manage “the human resource function” as part of their plan to cut at least ten per cent of the university’s expenditure over the next year.
Beckles made the statement during a UWI media briefing yesterday, a day after he told the UWI management they needed to make major cuts to survive in the COVID-19 environment in delivering a report on the future of the institution in a broadcast on UWItv.
Yesterday, he said the budget cut was pre-planned but before COVID and was supposed to be done over a two-year period.
“It is obvious to everyone that the significant economic impact of this pandemic upon the economy of the region, especially our contributing countries, it is obvious there are going to be some serious revenue challenges facing our governments and in turn, we have to that and participate in the process of reviving our economies while at the same time protecting our institutions,” Beckles said.
He said the university expects the economies in the region will rebound but in the interim, the university will do everything to protect its reputation as the number one tertiary level institution in the Caribbean and its rank as among the top four in the world.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) I used West Indies cricket as an example. We at the university are not going to collapse from awesome to awful, what is going to take place now is a system where we are looking closely at taking a deep dive at all of our expenditures, all of our operations,” Beckles said.
He said that deep-dive would be done without damaging the core functions of the university.
“We are going to be looking at strategies such as freezing all new appointments, we are looking quite closely at how we manage our human resource strategy, 70 per cent of our expenditure is in the human resource function of the institution and we will be looking to see how we handle things like that. There are some benefits and privileges that we will discuss with our trade unions within the university,” Beckles said.
He said while the university is trying to make cuts, it will also be trying to increase its revenue.
“We are looking at developing a more entrepreneurial function, self-financing function, generating and developing bankable projects that will generate revenue. We do not believe that what we will do will damage standards, quality and capacity but we are looking at reorganising many aspects of our expenditure.”