Karim opens UTT School of Business in south Trinidad

 Tuesday, June 16, 2015

 Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (MTEST) officially opened the UTT School of Business on Tuesday 16th June 2015 at the Southern Academy of Performing Arts where the Singapore Experience Forum II is also being simultaneously held. Singaporean Professors – Chin Tiong Tan, Senior Advisor to the President and Professor of Marketing, Singapore Management University and Kulwant Singh, Deputy Dean of the Business School, National University of Singapore will be delivering remarks during the two-day symposium.

 Speaking during his feature address, Minister Karim said the newly opened UTT School of Business must adhere to several important criteria namely, it must be market relevant, it must attract highly qualified faculty and it must examine the quality and cost of education through the university level so that the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses programme can be responsive to the economic development needs of the country. He added, “Let me say, because of the season we are in, and lest there is any misconception or miscommunication, deliberate or otherwise, the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses stands resolute. There will be no interference with the GATE programme. It continues to be available to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.” He also said students who are contractually obligated to give back to the country must do so and consider it as a return on investment or ROI.

He called on tertiary level students to ensure that they graduate on time, “If you do not graduate on time it will subtract from the quality of education. We must also ensure there is a reduction in the dropout rate if such a rate exists.” Minister Karim also told officials of the UTT School of Business that there is no universal recipe or magic formula for making a world-class university, “Transformation of a university cannot take place in isolation but it must do so within a long-term vision and implementation strategy which should be closely articulated with the country’s social and economic development strategy.”  He likened Trinidad and Tobago to Singapore which he said was small in size but significant for its contribution to the world.

Minister Karim said the Singapore Experience Forum II was not meant to transplant a Singaporean approach in Trinidad and Tobago but be used as a way to hear about the different strategies used by Singapore to diversify the economy, which has some of the best success stories in the world. Economic diversification, according to him, must be impacted by teaching, learning, research, creativity, innovation, industry, governance, commercialisation, education leadership, and an innovative curriculum facilitated by good pedagogy all utilising cutting-edge technology that will provide a nexus for a seamless system of education and training and particularly where there is a combination.

The German model of dual education which combines vocational education and an apprenticeship system, Minister Karim said, has been utilised in the local tertiary education system where there is a combination in the market of young persons, mature individuals and retirees. He said of the Retirees Returning to Work (RRW) programme, “I want to make it abundantly clear this is not a make-work programme. This is not to replace the jobs of the graduates. This is to complement the graduates of our higher education institutions. This is where knowledge meets the experience and it will give us efficiency and productivity. I have always said talentism for me is the new capitalism.”

Minister Karim said in the future there will be faculty exchanges between universities in Singapore and the UTT, as well as student exchanges and internships. He said, “I want to ask our friends from Singapore to accept our students from UTT School of Business to be interned in Singapore while we accept your students to be interned in Trinidad and Tobago. I want to ask you to join with us even in co-financing projects, in writing case studies, and in venture lab start-ups.”

Curtis Manchoon, Chairman of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) said School of Business will offer undergraduate degree programmes in core business and management areas so as to equip graduates with the tools to support business and entrepreneurial activities. Postgraduate programmes and related research activities will also be offered and implemented through the establishment of centres of learning within the School.  For instance, The Centre for Banking and Finance will offer degrees and diplomas to support the development of the local financial sector, which includes assisting to establish an International Financial Centre in Trinidad to serve the Caribbean and Latin American region.

The symposium will continue on Wednesday June 17, 2015 with presentations by Professor Narayan Pant, Dean of Executive Education, INSEAD, Professor Kulwant Singh, Deputy Dean, National University of Singapore Business School, Dr. Thackray Driver, President of the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, Karen Rosemin, Director of Distance Learning Secretariat, MTEST and Earl Boodasingh, Executive Director, Massy Holdings Limited.

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