On the heels of news of the possible closure of the University of T&T (UTT) Corinth Campus in south Trinidad, the Registrar has revealed that they are not aware that there was any stakeholder consultation in the process. There is now a desperate call for a forensic audit into UTT.
A memorandum dated May 8, 2019 titled “Campus and Programme Rationalisation - Utt Corinth Campus” (that was leaked to the Guardian Media) was sent to UTT’s president and provost (acting), Sarim Al-Zubaidy by Registrar Phillip Robinson who sought to draw reference to the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) General Conditions of Institutional Accreditation for post-secondary and tertiary institutions, which was signed by the Executive Director of the ACTT and the UTT president on April 5, 2018.
Robinson explained that the conditions in that document outlined UTT’s obligations after institutional accreditation status was granted to the date of expiration (that is, December 17, 2017 – December 16, 2024).
“Under the general conditions for institutional accreditation, “substantive changes” are defined as changes made after the award of accredited status and include inter alia: The withdrawal or discontinuation of a programme in which students are enroled; The closure of an existing site for teaching and learning or research activities,” the memo stated.
“In any case, substantive changes require extensive stakeholder consultation and review by Executive Management and more significantly, the Academic Council as the highest decision-making body in the University,” it added.
It also sought to draw Al-Zubaidy’s attention to an email thread culminating on May 3, 2019 with the caption “Closure of the Corinth Campus” in which the corporate secretary advised the Registrar that “This is an on-going matter and in (is) currently before the BOG...”.
It stated that the president’s memorandum was based on a subsequent email that was addressed to him enquiring into actions to be taken with respect to applications that have been received for programmes offered at the Corinth Campus.
Robinson outlined several issues including the fact that the Registrar is not aware that there was any stakeholder consultation in the process, “This is supported by the fact that the President is informing the Registrar on May 7, 2019 after the Board of Governors has already approved a substantive change and it has been referred to the Ministry of Education;
“As a member of the Academic Council, the Registrar cannot recall the issue of the Corinth Campus closure being discussed at any of the Council’s intermittent meetings; As a member of the Executive Management Group, the Registrar cannot recall any discussion on the matter, although his memory may have failed him due to the fact that such a meeting has not been held for more than a year,” Robinson said.
“ It is unclear the extent to which the Registry or Student Support Services (as the units primarily charged with the advancement of student welfare) were involved in the decision-making process,” he added.
A UTT staff member, who wished not to be identified, said that it is the belief that ACT’s general conditions are currently being ignored.
The staff member said, “They changed most programmes that were three terms to two semesters and the students are complaining that the work to cover in a shorter period of time is too much. Where have you heard part time programme on a two semester system? While others institutions are being decentralized and making their presence felt in south we are heading east.
The first, second and third largest campuses are Point Lisas, San Fernando and Corinth campuses respectively.”
“The majority of our students are from south Trinidad which is clearly indicated by the campuses with the largest student population. Rationalization to save money and get value for money! Who are they fooling? There are campuses like Camden and Chaguaramas that we don’t get value for money. But because the UTT president LOVES aviation money is spent behind that campus and those programmes. Where is the value for money there?” the staff member added.
Last week, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said that no decision has yet been taken to close the UTT’s Corinth campus.
- Rhondor Dowlat