On September 11, 2018, several lectures were not held and as a result, our students were greatly disadvantaged. The UTech, Ja. Students’ Union understands the action taken by the University of Technology, Jamaica’s Academic Staff Union (UTASU). We hasten to say that this issue extends far beyond classes not being held, as it stems from the less than satisfactory teaching and learning conditions, which includes the adequate remuneration of staff. This remuneration is proportional to the subvention allotted for UTech, Ja. versus other tertiary institutions and remains unsatisfactory. While we intend no ill-will toward other institutions, the disparity must be highlighted. Currently, UTech, Ja. students receive a per capita subvention of $147,702 while students at some secondary institutions receive approximately $240,000. Furthermore, the University of the West Indies students currently receive three times the amount that UTech, Ja. students are given.
We are completely aware that our students should have the prescribed contact time with lecturers, and we anticipate hearing how the repercussions of academic staff allegedly being absent by choice will be absorbed and counteracted so students are in no way disenfranchised. However, in appreciation for the root cause of this issue, we will continue to have dialogue with the President of the UTASU to see how best it can be amicably resolved. The government of Jamaica has a civic duty as it relates to maintaining standard teaching and learning conditions, in ensuring that the academic staff hired, has their needs met to a mutually acceptable standard. The academic staff at UTech, Ja. has suffered through unnecessarily prolonged negotiations regarding extremely unsatisfactory remuneration. As the students on the receiving end of the services of the academic staff, we maintain that they deserve to be treated equally to academic staff of other tertiary institutions. The quality of our teaching-learning process and environment should not be compromised by the burdens academic staff may be bearing due to enduring unsatisfactory conditions.
The Government owes the students of UTech, Ja. learning conditions which rival those of other prominent institutions. This includes motivated lecturers and tutors who can deliver to us at an optimal standard. All things considered, it is unacceptable for students to be denied academic services for which payment is mandatory. As such, we challenge the government to action in a favorable manner the grievances of our staff, and challenge the academic staff union to use justified means to arrive at an amicable solution.
Tia Ferguson (Miss)
UTech, Jamaica Students’ Union