THE College of the Bahamas Union of Students said it is alarmed by the government’s decision to cut subsidies to the college by as much as 45 per cent over the next five years.
In a statement released yesterday, COBUS also noted that the move has been met by silence from the College Council and senior administration at COB.
In late December 2012, the Ministry of Finance informed all public corporations and statutory entities that in light of the current economic situation and the associated fiscal burden, the government will have to reduce its subsidies to them.
This is to include COB, which incur an initial 10 per cent reduction taking effect in the 2013/2014 fiscal year, an increased reduction to 25 per cent in total by the 2014/2015 fiscal year, and a risen 45 per cent reduction in total by the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
The COBUS statement said: “The government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, despite their professed belief in Bahamians, despite the clear importance of education as the most pivotal asset of any society to create and sustain a peaceful and democratic society, and despite their promises of ‘doubling investments in education’ and establishing a ‘focus on young people’ during the 2012 general elections and as recorded in their Charter of Governance, have now sent instruction to the College of the Bahamas to cut its limited $25 million subvention . . . at the same time, mandating the College of the Bahamas to become a University by 2015.
“And in their dictation of all of this, they’ve acted without consultation, dialogue, or discussion as to the true and valid consequences such an edict will cause.”
“This autocratic, visionless attempt to cripple the national institution, which has been working on the mandate to move to University for years now, is perplexing and terrifying. This may be the straw to finally cripple our national ability to educate our own citizens.”
COBUS said the development is the latest in a string of setbacks and poor leadership decisions at the college, where hundreds of promotions have been refused, classrooms remain ill-furnished, and stagnant management practices remain in place.
The statement added: “There is almost complete unanimous agreement among middle managers, students, faculty, and staff at the College of the Bahamas, that senior administration’s currently-proposed plan to increase student tuition, to align contact hours with credit hours with no regard to the implications this may have, to orchestrate a discontinuation of programmes with national agenda, and to instil a moratorium on new programmes without research and data, is shortsighted and ill- informed.”
The government’s new budget cuts, along with the senior administration’s plans, will harm “the dreams and aspirations of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles who’ve envisioned a better Bahamas for their offspring; whose life work has been to build a nation by educating their children in an institution whose essence was the development of their country,” COBUS said.