Prof Brian Copeland

FINANCIAL CHALLENGES: Prof Brian Copeland

CLOSE to 70 staff members including full-time lecturers have been retrenched from The UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business (Lok Jack GSB) under a new strategic plan and structure which was implemented by the board as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and financial challenges.

Sources told the Express that the downturn in the economy, the removal of the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE) and the impact of the pandemic, placed a further strain on the institution.

Also another factor was a decline in students enrolling for post-graduate degrees and it is against this background that no new programmes will be offered.

The source added that the staff and full-time lecturers who were retrenched are being paid their severance and were given 45 days’ notice.

In a statement from the business school it said that the chairman Prof Brian Copeland, during an address to the staff, announced that the board approved on June 30 a new strategic plan and structure for the Lok Jack GSB.

The change in strategy and structure, according to Prof Copeland, is based on the need for immediate action to ensure the school is not only prepared for the challenges and requirements of the new normal post Covid-19 but also to be self-sustaining in the short-term.

“While the school has experienced financial challenges as a result of significant changes within the tertiary education sector, and was in a process of a gradual reorganisation of its operations over the last two years, this approach was no longer practical because of the adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Copeland said.

Chief executive officer Dulal-Whiteway, stated that he is satisfied with the new plan which “can withstand scrutiny from our bankers, benefactors and donors”.

The school said there has been a “major consolidation and rationalisation of programmes and services in response to market needs and as such the new Structure will require a more lean workforce”.

It noted that Dr Shafeek Sultan-Khan, lawyer and industrial relations consultant, was engaged by the school to develop a proper separation plan.

Dr Sultan-Khan, who also addressed the staff, outlined the principles, processes and legislation that guided the separation process.

The Lok Jack GSB added that with this new plan, it will continue to play a critical role in providing leaders in the various communities with the tools to face the challenges ahead.

On the school’s website it outlined the new strategic plan in response to the changes in the tertiary education sector and the wider economy.

In this new plan, the school’s postgraduate academic portfolio has been consolidated and modified with one MBA programme, three specialist master’s programmes — marketing, finance and human resources, and the masters in small and medium sized enterprise management (MSMEM).

These are all part-time, blended, programmes with students being able to complete the MBA and the three specialist master’s programmes over a 12-month period whereas the MSMEM will be over 20-months.

“To facilitate the implementation of this new plan, we will not be offering any graduate/master’s programmes in September 2020 and January 2021. However, we continue to offer our Bachelor’s in International and Sustainable Business (BISB) with classes starting in September 2020,” the school added.

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