A solution for financial problems dogging the University of the West Indies


“Acknowledging how WORTHLESS most of the UWI degree programmes are to society and to the earning power of individual students would be a good start.”

UWI is sinking financially, but that might be a good thing

by Nevermind Kurt

by Nevermind Kurt

The Government of Barbados is behind in promised payments to the University of the West Indies by over US$100 million dollars.

Tongue in cheek as a taxpayer (and not a tax-vampire like so many of my fellow Bajans) I say that you can look at it as BDS$200 million and hope the currency will be devalued. Or you can value the debt in Jamaican dollars (11,190,083,000.00 JMD). Or Mexican pesos. Or Japanese Yen…

It really doesn’t matter how it’s counted it if Barbados can’t honour it…

And Barbados cannot make the promised payments to UWI. We are making thousands redundant in the civil service, cutting infrastructure development and maintenance, and still the government can’t meet continuing payrolls without further borrowing. There is no money for UWI.

For all his book-learning, Sir Hilary Beckles can be pretty thick at times, but at least he had the courage to speak the truth yesterday talking to Barbados Today, saying “In my own judgment I think if the Government had the resources they would have made them available to us, but the fact is that they don’t have them”.

That’s correct, Sir Hilary: no money, no honey. The coin jar is empty.

Sir Hilary’s solution, however, is to forgive tuition to students this September and hope that Barbados somehow comes up with the money.


Here is where the academic world and the real world collide…


A better idea: Shut down UWI at Cave Hill. Teach young people to install toilets, mix concrete, grow crops.

How many degree-holding sales clerks can Bridgetown support? How many useless BAs in Linguistics, French, Fine Arts, Creative Thinking, Philosophy and Social Studies can a small island nation of 250,000 citizens support?

How many lawyers do we need on this island? How many mathematicians with a BSc in pure mathematics?

Why do we continue to educate a huge proportion of our young people with degrees that they will never be able to profit from unless they leave not only Barbados, but the Caribbean?  

What are we thinking to continue with this plan for failure? We take our brightest and our best and program them to take their education from Barbados the moment they graduate.

In his book “Worthless – The young person’s indispensable guide to Choosing the Right Major“, Aaron Clarey postulates that “the lowly plumber has more in common with the bio-engineer than does a doctorate in philosophy because the plumber, like the bio-engineer, produces something of value.”

And that is the answer to a whining Sir Hilary Beckles: Shut down UWI for a few years and rethink how the academic world can best SERVE Barbados and Bajans. Open a school for plumbers and mechanics. Take the lowest ranking five hundred Fine Arts undergraduates who won’t be able to find jobs anyway in their chosen degrees and teach them skills that the market demands.

Hope is not a strategy.

Acknowledging how WORTHLESS most of the UWI degree programmes are to society and to the earning power of individual students would be a good start.


Filed under Barbados, Business, Consumer Issues, Education

19 responses to “A solution for financial problems dogging the University of the West Indies

  1. WSD

    Too much truth in this post! Don’t let Sir Hilary read it because his head would explode!

  2. Smythe and friend

    I agree 100% with this post by Kurt.

    UWI does not serve Barbados or the people. It serves itself.

  3. I beg to differ @Smythe and friend, it serves the purposes of a small select group at UWI.
    I am in total agreement with the article. Spot on.

  4. Party Animal

    This article is spot on, I have been saying for years that Mr. Barrow should have done what he told the students, and turn it into a Hotel, it would have made money not loose money.
    They need to add one more program to their curriculum “Common Sense”

  5. rastaman

    But Barbados needs a graduate in every household !!!!

  6. Wily Coyote

    Best article I’ve read in a long time.

    Those who can do, those who can’t teach……..

  7. OUCH!!!

    OUCH! Man this truth in this article hurts!!!

    I should have devoted four years to learning a trade and building and business and a future. Instead, I went to university and lost four years of my life with zero return.

  8. Universities are a cancer they grow and expand and take over whole communities and towns and cities…they churn out young people who don’t even know why they are there only because in todays society they must have the opportunity…no idea what next.

    that’s why so many young people are disillusioned with the system

    Need to teach young people life skills, not a degree in this or that coz I can and no idea how to survive….how do I get there…parent s take em in their cars how do I live parents pay for it all…university look after you..then four years later bang you on your own now coz we looking after the next people

  9. Anonymous

    Dear Kurt
    I am a UWI lecturer and I have been for 25 years. So the answer to Barbados’ economic woes is to stop giving young people a university degree? I am willing to bet you that you have a degree, probably from some prestigious expensive foreign university. Why didn’t you become a plumber?
    I think UWI is being made a scapegoat here. Tackle your other problems and leave UWI alone.

  10. firbear

    @ Anonymous
    The education that you ha has given you a job for 25 years lecturing students towards a degree. It worked for you.
    By the way, what is your subject? You neglecte to tell us. Why so shy?
    Is it perhaps Sociology, the most devalued degree ever?
    Or maybe Psychology the second most useless degree ?

    Or maybe the modern equivalent of these “Meeja” Studies?

    Barbados is the size of an average UK town with more “Graduates” than it can accommodate. We have the best educated dole queue in the world. I am surprised that the government has not insisted on having at least a 2.2 degree to join the queue.

  11. Wily Coyote


    No doubt you taught “UNDERWATER BASKET WEAVING”, like I’ve said, THOSE WHO CAN DO – THOSE WHO CAN’T TEACH.

  12. distant voice

    forget the subject matter of degrees, the students have a choice and they can go away if they want jobs. The real problem, is that HB has turned the business model of the university in Barbados, into an upside down pyramid.
    He would have been fired and sent away in disgrace in the real world. He has increased the number of buildings, spent huge amounts of money, increased the number of students that can be accommodated, but he has not addressed the financial implications. He has created an unsustainable business model.
    It is very clear now that since fees have been introduced (which are a small fraction of what other students pay overseas) the number of students attending courses (both new and existing) has dropped dramatically.
    The maintenance costs must now be huge, along with the utility bills.
    Time to get realistic and turn the institution around. lease out the buildings to private enterprises who have an interest in being on campus. The resources are there. Start a program that can involve students in maintenance, landscaping, business planning and management. Start implementing projects that can earn money. Employ the professors and visiting professionals to engage with the new programs to make them work. Come on HB, show us ignorant outsiders that you can save the institution from imminent collapse and be a REAL hero.


    Sir Crook Fraud Beckles and the rest of the DBLP Government and here is the other part you MIGHT have Missed ,

    And We know first hand Barbados if off its rocker in ALL things, Yes We have the Deed for UWI Also


    Get Rid of Sir Crook Hillery Beckles, Fraud Master of Bajan History

  15. Konkieman

    My plan if I become president/Prime Minister:

    All law schools shut down for a minimum of 10 years. Dry up the low lifes of the profession. This profession adds no value to society, only transfers it between individuals and takes a cut for their “services”. In addition, only 10% of the elected body of parliament will be held by lawyers. And I am being very generous here.

    All liberal arts degree offerings will be cut in half. In addition, no government funding will be available for those programs. (Lady on CNN a few weeks ago bitching because she had $60k in loans and a masters degree in Poetry. Now she can’t figure out how she will ever pay them off – idiots more prelevant than common sense these days).

    No more 100% government funding. Beckles and his croneys have to hit the street and get corporate donations. That means they have to prove the worth of the graduates they deliver to society. Lord I want to see this! Beckles is too big a pompous idiot to lower himself to this level, he will think it is begging.

    Tenure us gone!!! The ineffectual idiots who have never held a real job in their life, but can poison young minds with shite will be put on the curb and can sleep under a bush for a while until they grasp the concept of added value.

    I could go on. But hopefully you get my point.

  16. firbear

    I admire your restraint!

  17. Konkieman

    I forgot to add. The empty law schools will be convereted to engineering and scientific programs that will promote grads who can build the economy in a positive way.

  18. Anonymous

    Good article. Good commentary. Now what?

  19. Anonymous

    anonymous here
    My degrees are in Medicine, Post Graduate Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
    That matters very little.
    Barbados has one of the most educated populations in the Caribbean but some of the most insular people.
    The problems faced by Barbados is not over education, it is stubborn insularity.
    Devalue your dollar
    welcome investors
    pay your bills