Principal of the T.A. Marryshow Community College, Dr. Jeffrey Britton, launched a scathing defense of the College’s intent to increase fees and warned of drastic measures to be taken if the increase is denied.
Dr. Britton last week in his remarks during the institution’s 23rd Graduation ceremony at the National Stadium lashed out at policymakers for its stance against the decision to increase fees.
Addressing hundreds of graduates, parents, officials and well wishers, Dr Britton explained that the academic year has been one filled with challenges, disappointments, improvisation, embarrassments, sleepless nights, frustrations, loss of patience, and few instances of resilience.
He said there were days when the island’s lone tertiary institution was out of basic items, times when salaries were significantly late, especially for part-time lecturers some of whom threatened to stop teaching. The principal said they received several oral and written lectures and abuse from some business enterprises for outstanding payments for services provided.
He said that College is in debt of more than $800,000.00 to a vast number of business enterprises and therefore the issue of fees is not an irresponsible one and they have stretched to cut cost at the institution without compromising the quality of the curriculum.
The principal said there were false accusations of wastage and lack of accountability and transparency at the College all because management asked the policy makers for more financial assistance to carry out the day-to-day operations of a college that has outgrown its allocated financial resources in the interest of knowledge and development.
Amidst loud outbursts of applause from members of faculty and students, Dr Britton said there has not been a scientific or economic rationalization as to why the College budget was cut to an inadequate $10 million while the College needs $14 million annually to moderately run it’s day-to-day affairs. “TAMCC generates $2.13 million from fees and services,” he said, when statements such as “bound a way spending” is made its nothing more than nonsensical gossip.
He said the college caters to 44 full time programmes, 28 Associate Degrees and 16 certificate programmes, in addition to the School of Continuing Education which caters to 24 short part time programmes, 5 campuses, 319 employees, 152 full time lecturers and 167 non-teaching staff; 56 part time lecturers, 2700 full and part time students.
Dr Britton said that despite the challenges the staff continues to provide quality education to students and students continue to perform exemplary. One source of concern he said is the regional nursing programme that is being reviewed. He said that the College’s only source of comfort is from parents of students and well-wishers and is “priceless,” adding that this gives them the solace to hang on and weather the storms despite the turbulence and baseless rumours.
He said the most important question asked is,” how do we maintain our commitment to access and our commitment to quality education without compromising either … is it preferable to send home some staff members who may have several family members to take care of instead of increasing the fees albeit and provide financial assistance and guidance to those that really cannot pay or is it preferable that TAMCC close its doors to all instead of depriving those that cannot pay and can seek relevant intervention through a realistic loan scheme, family sacrifice and public giving?”
Dr. Britton said that as a result of the policy-makers decision not to support the increase in fees at the College several programmes would be capped – culinary arts, building construction, natural sciences and business among others. He said some of these programmes are expensive to run and faculty for them is mainly part-time lecturers. He said that there are many other areas of studies that the college will like to extend to students including criminal justice.
Year one students will have new programs at their disposal such as general nursing, midwifery, Horticulture, social work, cultural studies, physical education and sports, secondary teacher education, property and facility maintenance, furniture making, front desk operation and plumbing.
Dr. Britton said they are striving to avoid the retrenchment of any full time staff at this time however he warned that if there were no increase in tuition in fees for the new academic year then more drastic measures would be taken to sustain the existence of TAMCC.
“As we endeavour to find solutions to our financial woes, the direction we choose will determine TAMCC’s future”, he said that it is time for stakeholders to rally around the island’s lone tertiary institution, make a meaningful investment and bail out TAMCC from its financial woes.