UCCI aims to cut $560k from costs

| 16/02/2015 | 23 Comments

(CNS): In an effort to secure the university’s future, the UCCI has undertaken an internal review of operating costs and come up with possible savings of well over half a million dollars. The college’s board chair and president revealed that the college is dealing with a deteriorating financial situation and ongoing serious losses and without some dramatic changes the viability of the local university is in question.

The review was conducted by a team made up of the University College of the Cayman Islands’ own board and faculty members, and the authors of the report have come up with a number of cost-cutting measures. Sheree Ebanks, the board’s chair, told the press last week that the full board and faculty will now examine those recommendations closely and begin the process of seeing which of the measures could be approved and implemented and how that would happen. She said a business case for recommendations would be developed and a project manager appointed from the college to see the changes that are accepted and approved through to implementation.

The list of cost-cutting measures include dropping loss-making courses and classes and abandoning the associate’s degree in business administration, as Ebanks said that it was “essentially meaningless”. The report recommends merging departments and cutting the summer term, all of which would see posts cut, but the UCCI officials said any job cuts would be made through natural attrition. The report also recommends increasing fees, in particular those offered on some associate courses.

The report demonstrates that in some cases UCCI is delivering courses to just two or three students. However, not all of the course running at a significant loss will be cut because, as a government authority, UCCI is required to deliver certain programmes regardless in order to meet the Education Ministry’s policies and objectives.

The report shows that the education degree is running at a 90% loss, but because the teacher training course is being offered at the request of government to encourage Caymanians into the education profession, it will not necessarily be dropped.

Government will continue to subsidize the college but Ebanks revealed that even with the government subsidy this year, the public purse will also have to forgive the UCCI its debts and make an additional $350,000 cash injection to prevent it from going under.

As a result, whatever decisions UCCI makes to start cutting costs or increasing revenue will depend on government approval. In addition, any increase in tuition fees will see the government pick up the tab as the vast majority of students at UCCI are on some form of government scholarship.

President Roy Bodden said it was a reflection of the maturity of UCCI that it was able to undertake the internal review and come up with a comprehensive and realistic assessment about the college’s financial future and he said it would now be a matter of the board and the faculty negotiating what could be implemented. He would be acting as an advisor rather than directing the cuts or changes, he said.

The goal for UCCI was to still seek international accreditation, Bodden added, maintaining that improving its fiscal position would help with that goal.

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  1. Poem Reader says:

    Yes 943am i tell you what he hasn’t done is steal our monies, as for your self preservation comment if some just like you XXXX did their job instead of plotting and scheming and conspiring to change leadership. To install individuals with bought diplomas we would be further head, but alas a bunch of self righteous individuals like you with their own little agenda and suffering from CaYman SYndrome” How Great Thou Are” Mr Bodden is not perfect but question is who is going to replace him and where from with the perspective he has of Cayman and finally to all you naysayers out deh! At least he ain’t Corrupt .That is more than i can say for many of our so call leadership on this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hardly think that not stealing and not being corrupt are the best ideals for a university president.

    • Patricia Ebanks says:

      We just need a bigger vision than saving a half a million. And an injection of $350,000 is peanuts for a university.

      I have been writing about what happens when a country takes education seriously and really allocates resources in a way that will make a difference. We have to decide if UCCI is to rise to the challenges or merely survive.

      The fundamental question is what is the purpose of education? It is to enable fulfillment of potential and dreams so that lives and the entire country are enriched. It is no accident that Costa Rica is ranked at the top of the happiness index worldwide. That is what education does for people — it makes them feel fulfilled and satisfied with their lives.

      And it is similarly no accident that we are having the disharmony and dissatisfaction among the populace now. We were warned in the 70s by returning Caymanians (notably Frank McField) that this would happen if we did not take the necessary actions. It is now happening. But it is not too late — a lot can be done now to make a difference but it won’t be done by nickel and diming.

      And in case anyone misunderstands, the Costa Rican model is just an example of the difference that ploughing resources into education can make. It does not mean that we have to follow that particular model in that particular way; our territories are different and approaches will vary accordingly. But it does mean that we have to properly fund education one way or the other –a combination of government funding and private endowments is required — unless we can secure a phenomenal source of private funds, which we must also work on. Sad that more efforts were not made to secure private funding considering our fortunate circumstance as a world class financial centre.

      Strengthening UCCI as a world class university can make an incredible difference to lives here — and if the offerings can satisfy needs and dreams, we may find less need to spend on expensive overseas scholarships — and what is more we can market UCCI’s offerings overseas. That is actually what Costa Rica does. And those cross-cultural and social interactions can bring so much richness to our society. It is just a win win — but we have to broaden our vision and all stakeholders need to come aboard and recognize the value of this the islands’ premiere educational institution.

      And, here is the kicker, we may find that down the road we may spend less on Northward and courts and rehab. Such are the enormous benefits of education.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, we need another religious soothsayer with “vision” with religious priests set up as deans and mindless choir boys for department heads , how about a practical minded administration for goodness sake. XXXXX I have seen this all before having lived in Cayman for over 20 years and it never ends well for the students, but those in power have a fun time attending conferences with a low load of teaching and then preaching to the faculty how they need to sacrifice more and more and more, and clean up their mess.

        • Anonymous says:

          To anonymous at 18th at 9:06 pm, I am not sure whether you were reacting to the Poster’s quote from Proverbs that for the lack of “vision the people perish”. Just to clarify, I don’t think the writer was suggesting anything biblical for the leadership of UCCI. The poster was saying that we need a perspective of where UCCI should be going, what it should achieve for the country. The biblical quote just underscores the importance of long-term achievement of that broad perspective — or vision — to the ultimate goals of education. And how dangerous it is to function without that driving vision. What is essentially what is now happening at UCCI. We seem to be offering stop gap solutions rather than looking at the long-term goals for the institution.

      • Patricia Ebanks says:

        And just in case anyone thinks the word “peanuts” was ill-advised in describing $350,000, I do understand that money is in short supply. However, in the context of the minds of this territory, we must find a way to cut in other areas and ensure we do not short change the people of these islands in this so awesome a pursuit.

        Don’t forget Costa Rica’s former President Arias words to Latin American leaders when chiding them for not making education a priority in their countries: ” We are doing somethings wrong.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Proverbs29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

    • Anonymous says:

      True dat but neither has it attracted the best of our Caymanian students who all head off for foreign shores where they perceive they will get a good university education. Students are voting with their feet.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A place has to be fit for purpose and certainly its teacher education is not. How many lecturers does it take to train x potential student? In UCCI’s case its a lot. We are too small of an island to be able to sustain courses because we want to attract students from our community. Why not rationalize that department. In terms of saving of 560k that should not be a problem with so many courses under subscribed. I would start with the removal of Mr Bodden, as long as he remains as President of that institution, nothing substantial will happen and believe me UCCI needs root and branch change.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I, for one, am not concerned about government subsidy. All the participating governments across the region contribute to the running of UWI — and as far as I know Cayman has been doing that regardless of whether we have students there or not. In fact, most if not all governments contribute to government-owned educational institutions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Associates Degree in Business Administration was abandoned because it “is essentially meaningless”??? What on earth does that mean? Why did the President allow it to be offered in the first place?

    • Anonymous says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I guess that means we should leave our own Country to get an education.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is unfortunate that that comment was carried without an explanation as to what was meant. In most scenarios, the two-year associate degrees are intended essentially to prepare students for the four-year bachelor’s degree, and as such it is laying a foundation for a good liberal arts education.

        As an end in itself, however, the associate in business administration is limited in the practical skill sets that it can provide, unlike possibly an associate in accounting, for instance, which may provide some foundation accounting courses.

        So from that point of view, the associate in business administration is just a beginning. But I would not say that it is “essentially meaningless.” If the objective is to move away from bachelor’s degrees and prepare persons for the workforce, it just may not work as well as others.

        Where UCCI is headed has not been made clear in this story — seems they are not yet ready to announce directions. And that statement really needed to be accompanied by an explanation of the objectives that UCCI will be pursuing and how they intend that the associates will fit into those goals.

        At the same time, students have traditionally gone on to complete the bachelor’s at overseas universities. Certainly, from that perspective, in any event, it cannot be viewed as meaningless.

    • Anonymous says:

      To get the true impact of this phrase attributed to Sheree Ebanks, one needs to read the entire quote; here it is as published in the Compass ‘Ms. Ebanks said, “I come from the private sector, and if somebody came to me with an associate degree, I’m really not going to pay much attention. I’m looking for at least a bachelor’s. I’m really looking for a master’s. An associate degree in this day and age is pretty much meaningless.”’This is truly a shocking statement and if true might explain why some are saying that they are not given a fair chance at private sector jobs.Imagine this: an individual who messed up in high School and left without a diploma ,turns their life around and gets a GED by correspondence course.They now attend UCCI,or ICCI and get an Associate’s Degree (perhaps on their way to obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree) and presents themselves to this lady. Now imagine how shocked and hurt they would be when they realize that their efforts are meaningless to Sheree Ebanks.Please Ms Ebanks ,not everyone needs a Master’s or is able to attain one.Your desire to see only Master’s Degrees is an “Utopian Dream” and could result in you missing a chance at a very good employee. Just remember that Richard Branson is a very successful individual and does not have a Masters Degree.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are two observations that I have about UCCI, as a former student.
    1. As an accredited university, I always wondered why each classroom wasn’t filled to the brim with students. The value of education seems to be lacking.

    2. UCCI have same excellent professors! Like prof. Hardgrave, who makes calculus seem like basic math, because of her awesome teaching method.

    I know that there is the view that UCCI as a local university isn’t up to pay with others, but that isn’t the case. As an accredited institution, UCCI has in place a the academic structure to help people advance academically.

    A bit off topic, but just saying….

    • Mawga says:

      UCCI is NOT an accredited institution.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is! A great deal of American and Canadian accreditation bodies have accepted UCCI. Over 90% of my credits were accepted by the university I attended in the USA (before you make a remark about where I attended, Barry University).

        So, they do count for something. Every time I hear someone running UCCI down, it’s always some fool who “know ‘ s it all” but just scraped through high school and went no further; or its someone who just can’t say anything good about Cayman.

        Closing down any program at UCCI is one more nail in OUR coffin.

      • Anonymous says:

        Accreditation is a complicated concept. At UCCI some programmes are “accredited” by professional bodies — for example the nursing programme, by a regional nursing accrediting body. A similar arrangement is in place for the teacher education programme. This type of accreditation may actually be more meaningful than an overall accreditation, an expensive process, by one body for all programmes. UCCI needs to do a better job of communicating how accreditation is arranged. And the poster is correct, most transfers are handled smoothly and satisfactorily — and, by the way, Barry University is well recognized and regarded.

  6. Observer says:

    Just to make it clear, as I understand it, this review was initiated by the board and not by the president. It suits the president’s self-preservation to get on board (as he usually does whatever the initiate, depending on the way the wind blows) but it seems to me that he has done little or nothing over the course of his time there to initiate anything creative or that would otherwise contribute to operating a viable university. (too busy writing poems?). In fact, it seems an indictment of his leadership.

    Also, no one should infer that this reflects the views of the faculty. They were a few faculty and staff on the review committee, but as I understand it, they never once involved the faculty as a whole — never once asked their views, never once even reported what they were involved in. The review report was released last week mid-week, a faculty meeting called the next day to discuss (scheduled for 90 minutes or so, most of which was taken up with speeches), and a press conference called the next day.

    The faculty has been given a month to respond, I understand.

    • Kenny says:

      This is the result of having a competent board of honest individuals. We hope to see much more of this in other authorities where it seems the austerity message has not yet to hit home. The civil service has been cutting costs for 3 years. But we need to see this in the public sector. Well done Ms Ebanks.

      • Anonymous says:

        Kenny, nice sentiments, but a bit too early for kudos. Let us wait and see whether this review will result in positive outcomes for the people of these islands.

        I am also not too worried about government subsidy. Do we all realize that UCCI has been forced to keep tuition costs riducously low for political reasons? So naturally in the small population it will require government subsidy.

        Even at universities whose tuition fees would make UCCI’s look
        Ike child’s play, there are struggles to remain viable. What those universities depend on are endowments.

        Unfortunately, UCCI has exercised very little effort in this regard, except for some very recent initiatives that may not yet have borne fruit and which may now be placed at risk with these uncertainties — if there were any positive results.

        The leadership for that was the president’s responsibility, but it never happened other than some unknown very recent initiatives. How difficult would it have been to tap into some of the resources funneled through the Cayman Islands as some sort of tax write off while doing the Islands a huge service? Seems to me that with the right approach something big could have been done.

        So let us not have some knee jerk reactions in watering down the offerings of the islands’ premier educational institution.

        Health and education are two areas on which we cannot afford to compromise and for which survival cannot depend on profits and financial viability.

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