The issue of rising TAMCC fees

Whatever the final decision is regarding the declared raising of fees at the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), THE NEW TODAY would like to raise some  important issues which need to be addressed by those charged with the responsibility of running our only state-owned tertiary educational institution in the country.

TAMCC needs to look inside at its own operation and see if the possibilities and potential might exist for the college to earn some of its own funds and use it for operating expenses.
The fact is that Government has drastically cut its subvention to the College this year, which it intends for the institution to raise by itself.

But let’s look carefully at TAMCC: Many persons are currently unable to pay the fees so they cannot enter, period. Some students that are currently enrolled at the college cannot attend all classes per area of study in order to save on travel, cost of attending, etc. However they will have to meet their 80% attendance in order to graduate based on the College’s Student Handbook.

How feasible could it be to add this increase in an already depressed economy with many parents on almost fixed incomes?

On the other hand, THE NEW TODAY is forced to question whether TAMCC has done enough to raise some of its own operational/working capital. Non-students of economics know that in times of a downturn, the first measure for financial survival is to cut expenses where possible.

One can also look for niches in order to raise income where possible. If one passes any school day outside TAMCC, one will see a private mobile food wagon parked outside TAMCC’s campus doing what TAMCC could do within its walls and make money.

MNIB also operates another food shop inside the TAMCC gate, then there is a third such operation. It is public knowledge that TAMCC runs a Domestic Arts programme for students, which includes food preparation. So anyone with a little common sense can make the connection.

Here’s another: How about the sale of stationery? There is a ready market of more than 2000 students right on campus. Many other viable options are at TAMCC’s disposal. If as the Prime Minister recently said, TAMCC should operate as a business, then it should be able to establish profit-making operations in addition to providing a public (intellectual) good.

TAMCC must be made to operate efficiently. It must cut its cost of operations.  Too much manual work is required where there are cheaper electronic solutions that can be integrated into a central IT system.

Students were seen a few days ago getting library clearance: a piece of paper that says they are cleared of debt to the library. Isn’t that easy to input in a database? Or consider how many Deputy Registrars are currently employed to assumedly take the weight off the Registrar and to what end? How many square pegs are in round holes at TAMCC bleeding the purse strings?

There is need for someone to conduct an independent job evaluation to determine how the administration staff could be repositioned to bring better and greater results through high performance and productivity.

The Ministry of Education will recall years ago Fedora Grant now deceased, was the College’s registrar. She did not have a Deputy and managed seemingly much more efficiently than the current large team. If there are a couple hundred more students now there are four times the personnel. So?

Two years ago TAMCC hired a Deputy Principal, for what? The principal’s job description is not clear because the registrar is responsible for among other things, “the day to day operations of the college”.  That is strange.

Anyway between the two of them plus the team of about three deputy registrars much more could be done to spearhead transformative programmes and raise finances.

By the way does the college have a strategic plan? How will they know where they are…or are going? It appears some project planning expertise reside in the Chairman of Council.  That should help in the forward thrust that is necessary.

And while on the subject of direction by the Council, that body should be reminded that it is important to have a vision and action plan for the college that are aligned to the national agenda or the common pillars of development of the economy.

As if those failings are not enough, one of the College’s council members is a representative of its competitor institute, St. George’s University (SGU). Will SGU have a member of the College on its Board?

SGU terminated its lecturer-sharing agreement two years ago with the College as soon as it was able to use less college faculty as part time lecturers. The Grenada School of Nursing, which was recently being run by TAMCC, is hinted to be on its way to be taken over from TAMCC by SGU.

Recently SGU attempted to run its independent nursing programme but failed. With a new local teaching hospital on the way, why would the College not want to get a benefit by continuing to train our nurses in collaboration with the staff from the General Hospital?
Grenada’s nurses are also in high demand. Additionally some students go directly to SGU from high school, skipping TAMCC, paying well to attend SGU and spending 2 years of prepping time there with no Associate Degree to be had, and some might argue end up intellectually unprepared to be a meaningful part of an undergraduate degree programme until year 3.

How could SGU’s involvement at the College Council level ever help TAMCC? The business equivalent is like sharing trade secrets with your competitor from the top.
TAMCC is our premiere local tertiary institution and has to take the lead in providing the intellectual think tank we need to develop Grenada and to turn out trained personnel in practical areas of work.  No other tertiary institution operating in Grenada has that responsibility. It is obvious that TAMCC does not even have a research arm.  That is pitiful.

The College was recently approved by Parliament to grant degrees. This is another opportunity. Other universities are making profits right here on our shores. We must develop our own – and we dare add – on our own because we have enough local talent to do it.

Raising TAMCC fees is not the answer, evaluate from the work of the Council downward and review and redeploy college resources to work to achieve viability.  TAMCC must be made to deliver more to the nation!

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