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UTech Deputy President Responds – Carolyn Cooper and the UWI Cartel April 28, 2015

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Below is an article by Prof. Colin Gyles, Deputy President, published in today’s Gleaner  in response to an opinion article titled, “University fi stone dog in the UK?”  written by Prof. Carolyn Cooper, UWI  and published in the Sunday Gleaner, April 26, 2015.

Carolyn Cooper and the UWI cartel

Published: The Gleaner,  Tuesday | April 28, 2015

Prof. Colin Gyles

By: Prof. Colin Gyles, Deputy President University of Technology, Jamaica

I read with dismay a very unfortunate reference to the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), in last Sunday’s Gleaner (April 26, 2015) by the eminent UWI Professor, Carolyn Cooper.

Professor Cooper said:“Instead of specialising in professional vocational education, polytechnics began to duplicate the offerings of traditional universities. I suppose it’s similar to what the University of Technology has been doing in recent years: replicating practically all the professional programmes offered by the University of the West Indies. Incidentally, UTech hasn’t even applied for accreditation of its dental programme! And the first graduates are about to be let loose on an unsuspecting world.”

I consider the statement unfortunate because it gives an inaccurate picture of the value and credibility of the work that UTech, and CAST, its precursor, have been providing since 1958.

Let me make it clear that although most of my professional life has been spent at UTech, I am a graduate of the University of the West Indies, and I have no intention of denigrating my alma mater. We cannot become so fiercely competitive that we tear each other apart and undermine the collective strength that we could muster in order to bolster our own collective survival and competitiveness in the wider world.

Capacity to deliver quality education

It should be evident that any criticism of UTech’s capacity to deliver quality education is a criticism of the institutions from which those experts got their training. That includes UWI and the many other reputable institutions from developed countries such as Germany, Russia, United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others – the likes of Brunel, Rutgers, McGill, Georgia Institute of Technology, and so many others from which UTech experts have got PhDs and other terminal-degree qualifications.

UTech’s dental programme, for example, is recognised by the Dental Council of Jamaica, the responsible body that licenses dentists to practise in Jamaica. Further, UTech’s dental programme is recognised by the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment (CDCA), which assesses and approves dentists to practise in the United States and Canada. The CDCA is described as being like the gold standard for dental competency assessment.

It is of note that UTech’s College of Oral Health Sciences became the first institution outside of North America to be approved by the CDCA. The current final-year cohort of students from UTech’s dentistry programme will be sitting the CDCA examinations in less than a month.

It therefore gives a completely false impression of the quality of the cohort of students who will shortly graduate from the programme as fully trained and qualified dentists for them to be described as “about to be let loose on an unsuspecting world”.

It is significant that UWI only got institutional accreditation from the UCJ under two years ago. It would be quite unreasonable for persons to assume that there was no value to any UWI degree all those years prior to that.

The impression being given that UTech is some kind of polytechnic that simply tries to duplicate the offerings of traditional universities such as UWI is not true.

UTech’s law programme

The main example that detractors cite is UTech’s law programme. The records will show that UTech initiated the law programme at a time when Jamaicans either had to go overseas (often to Cave Hill in Barbados) or pay foreign exchange to do the programme offered by the University of London. UTech simply responded to a local need for a Law Faculty in Jamaica. UTech utilised some of the best local experts, some of them Queen’s Counsels, including a former director of public prosecutions, a former president of the Senate, a former registrar of titles, and also a number of eminent judges.

Likewise, when UTech initiated its dental programme at the time when the former Dental Auxiliary School was transferred to UTech, there was no other dental programme being offered in Jamaica. Prior to UTech’s initiative, UWI was approached about starting a dental programme, and it repeatedly refused. But that position changed when UTech took it on.

This is what competition does. It causes those who are comfortable and laid-back to wake up. Suddenly, UWI, Mona, has now decided to offer engineering, which previously was only available in Jamaica at UTech. Should UWI be seen as merely duplicating? I don’t think so.

So, in conclusion, I do not wish to have a fight with the eminent professor from my alma mater, but, if we regard the fact that the Parliament of Jamaica has established a national university, UTech, quite separate from the regional UWI, we should be prepared to see UTech function as a university like any other in the world.

Corporate Communications Unit

Advancement Division
University of Technology, Jamaica

===============================================================

MESSAGE TO CAST – UTech Alumni & Well Wishers

We invite all our alumni and well wishers to continue to support your institution, especially by sharing your comments on the real and positive contribution that CAST / UTech has made to the development of Jamaica and the Caribbean Region since 1958. For over 55 years, CAST / UTech has uplifted the lives of over 58,000 Jamaican and Caribbean Nationals. Who in turn are globally distributed and contributing meaningfully at the regional and international levels. Do consider setting up a Google Alert https://www.google.com/alerts to monitor the web for mentions of ‘UTech’ or ‘University of Technology, Jamaica’ and show your support by commenting on the various articles.  Why not start today by sharing this blog post with other alumni and friends, and in addition posting comments online to the two articles referenced? See below.

Link to Article Above by Prof. Colin Gyles, Deputy President

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20150428/carolyn-cooper-and-uwi-cartel

Link to Article by Prof. Carolyn Cooper published in the Sunday Gleaner, April 26, 2015:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20150426/university-fi-stone-dog-uk

=======================================================================

Alumni Relations Office
University of Technology, Jamaica
876-970-5468

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Comments»

1. chrissy - May 3, 2015

Thank you for responding to this madness…SMH… crab in a barrel mentality…..

2. Anonymous - April 30, 2015

Well said! As a dental student at utech, i have no regrets. Yes, the program has shot comings but it is way better than uwi. CDCA approved utech as an examination site for licensing dentists whike uwi was rejected. The mentality that only a certain class of people can enrter certain professions has to change. People are getting more educated whether rich or poor so ther ehas to be greater need for training institutions. This competetition has to stop and emphasis placed on unity.

3. Donovan Messam - April 29, 2015

I’m lost as to what kind of competition gear the UWI could be in that it would want to make damning comments about a local university! Is the market that rigid? Are the universities now at each other’s necks to ensure they enrol the most or the best students? Or is it that as a society we are so greedy for gain that we’re now competing even when there’s nothing to compete for? The gold for which we fight our fellows will elude us still, and we will be left with the bitter taste of self defeat.

4. Anonymous - April 29, 2015

A well-written response!

5. Cheryll Messam - April 28, 2015

Prof. Gyles, as a fellow staff member of UTech I want to “Thank You” for your staunch and balanced defence of our University, which is also the National University. Throughout its over 55 year history, from CAST through to its current UTech identity, UTech has contributed well and credibly to national and regional development. For anyone to suggest that UTech is merely replicating the programmes of the UWI is to be simplistic in an increasingly dynamic and demanding world. In addition, such a viewpoint erroneously suggests that the UWI offers the zenith of academic programmes and ambition. It does not.

Who gets to decide what type of institution UTech should be, given the needs of the Jamaican society as well as regional and global labour market needs?

I would think that the people of Jamaica should have the strongest say in such a decision rather than any special interest group.

Friends, we have some serious problems to solve in this country. Many many societal indicators including the advent of social media suggest that ‘peoples’ and ‘publics’ must get-together for problems to be solved and meaningful benefits to derived. I would like to invite my fellow Jamaicans be they ordinary citizens, or leaders in other contexts, to step away from special interest. Let us all meet in the middle and contemplate together with solution mindset and action orientation “How can we ensure a good future for Jamaica…together?”

6. Anonymous - April 28, 2015

Brilliant Professor Gyles, it is often said that education changes behavior if learnt. It would be sad to say Professor Cooper has not learned, but it seems as if she is just an ignorant person as to education.

7. Anonymous - April 28, 2015

I have very high regard for Professor Cooper and I am saddened that she made such unfortunate comments in the public domain. I am also a proud graduate of both institutions and I also share Professor Gyles view that “It should be evident that any criticism of UTech’s capacity to deliver quality education is a criticism of the institutions from which those experts got their training. That includes UWI and the many other reputable institutions from developed countries such as Germany, Russia, United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others – the likes of Brunel, Rutgers, McGill, Georgia Institute of Technology, and so many others from which UTech experts have got PhDs and other terminal-degree qualifications”.

8. Sherika Ballingsingh - April 28, 2015

Congratulations to our Leader Prof. Gyles we are proud of the diplomatic and intellectual approach you took. You have benchmark this for other leaders to follow. Yes in essence we should strive to work together not tearing down each other but instead strengthening each other collaborating and supporting each other to achieve that one goal for our country Jamaica. Well said Prof Gyles !!

9. Trudi-Ann - April 28, 2015

A well written response.Competition should not get the best of us.

10. Deborah Bishop - April 28, 2015

That was a very informative article Dr. Gyles. It is very unfortunate that Dr. Cooper has made those comments. I am an alumna of UTECH and I was recently accepted to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Southern California – a university that is held in high regards here in the western part of the United States; its acceptance rate is a mere 17.8%. I will admit that throughout my tenure at UTECH, there were tutors I did not necessarily fancy because I thought they were pushing us too hard. But now that I am living in the United States and I am able to make comparisons with university educated individuals here and the quality of their academic performance and critical thinking skills, I am realizing how superb my tutors were. The standard they held for us as students has certainly made us a cut above the rest and I am truly grateful.

It is very important that Dr. Cooper recognize that we are living in a global world and her misinformed opinions can have effects on thousands of qualified UTECH graduates locally and internationally.I think it is time for us to stop functioning from this ‘crabs in a barrel’ perspective.

I will forever be grateful to my tutors for their excellent delivery of a well developed program which included a strong theoretical background and rigorous hands-on training.


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