Sometimes, when a government fails to satisfy some of the basic needs of its people, its leaders conveniently create a scapegoat to defer blame to satisfy its support base.
Some of our leaders laid blame on the ‘recalcitrant minority’, ‘parasitic oligarchy’, ‘one per cent’, and ‘the opposition’ for their inability to deliver good governance.
At present, in Canada, there is a housing crisis. Two-thirds of renters are giving up on the dream of home ownership. Housing affordability is a challenge for most. The increased cost and the time it takes to build homes have proven challenging for Justin Trudeau’s government. Not only is housing expensive and scarce but the cost of rent has skyrocketed.
Canada’s PM needed to blame someone. The international student is the whipping boy. Canada has now placed a two-year ban on foreign students who create a demand for rental properties, leading to an increase in rental costs for the average Canadian.
Indians comprised about 40 per cent of the international students.
On September 21, 2023, Nidhi Mital, of India TV News, opined, “The relationship between India and Canada has crumbled after the allegations of the Canadian PM against the Indian government in the killing of wanted Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar…students may bear the brunt of this development.”
Well, Trudeau is teaching India a lesson, at the same time decreasing the housing demand and giving his supporters the foreign students as the enemy.
From January 1, 2024, most international students are banned from bringing family members to the UK, in a government attempt to slash migration.
Indian students are forced to go elsewhere. Australia and Germany are options. But a recent protest in Germany illustrates extremists’ plan to force millions of immigrants to “re-migrate”.
Our country’s peaceful multi-ethnic coexistence can serve as a beacon to attract people here.
Since 2016, the management of The UWI has worked towards global competitive rankings. In September 2021, The UWI stood in the top 1.5 per cent in the Times Higher Education ranking system.
We now need to sell The UWI to the world.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Sir Hilary Beckles noted, “This is a spectacular performance, while we have maintained our number one position in the Caribbean, and top 1% of the best in Latin America and the Caribbean, the surge to the top 1.5% in the world gives us a considerable degree of professional satisfaction as a management and leadership team.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Planning, Prof Densil Williams, noted that “the impressive performance is rooted in the work of Faculties and Research Institutes. Campus principals and their leadership teams”.
Our High Commissioner to India, His Excellency Dr Roger Gopaul, needs recruitment agencies to attract Indian students with the added incentive that this is the land of Brian Lara.
On June 22, 2023, Guardian Media’s Kejan Haynes published an article captioned, ‘PM knocks UWI lecturers’ poor research drive’. Dr Rowley was speaking at the UWI Seismic Research Centre’s 70th Anniversary function, where he was honoured as the first director born and trained in the Caribbean. The PM said lecturers were publishing more columns in the newspapers than research. He said, “I’m a little impatient that UWI has fallen away from its mission in scientific research.”
The indomitable UWI principal Rose-Marie Belle Antoine responded by saying, “It seems that UWI needs to publicise its good work and its great research better. UWI academics are actively researching all of those topics and more and are acknowledged internationally for their work.
“We have research on Sargassum; we are creating green pesticides, cutting edge plastic and marine sealants, and products capable of building roads in T&T that are sustainable, also products to counter the problem of resistance to antibiotics which can save lives.”
In a follow-up CNC3 interview, she spoke on the, “very strong record in terms of scientific research, and what we don’t have, unfortunately, is the support both from government and the private sector in terms of funding research.”
On columnist lecturers, Antoine said, “It’s a bit ironic because I have been saying to my staff, we need to get our voice out there, quite the opposite. We don’t speak out enough, I think, as intellectuals. You remember the days of the Dennis Pantins and the Lloyd Bests and so on, where every issue that happened in the society, you had a UWI person commenting, and that is what it should be like.”
All alumni need to defend The UWI, appreciate what we have and support its efforts.
A day may soon reach when our children are not welcome elsewhere.