Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley has declared that the hands of the Barbados Government are clean in the matter of the relocation of the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) from Dominica to the land of the flying fish.
In a statement released last evening Mottley explained that this is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica. In fact she noted her government enquired of Ross whether all options and scenarios had been explored and fully exhausted and spoke with officials of the Dominican Government who were still hopeful of a return of the school. These officials according to Mottley conceded that a January start-up was highly unlikely given their circumstances.
“I am a bit disappointed that some Barbadians and others across the region appear duped by the attempt by a few who have sought to create discord and confusion over the decision of Adtalem Global Education to locate one of its institutions, Ross University School of Medicine to Barbados,” she stated adding that Barbados embraced the idea of housing Ross University only when and after it was determined that a return to Dominica was not an option at this time and that for anyone in the region to suggest otherwise is at best, ignorant of the facts and at worst, downright malicious.
According to the recently elected Head of State, the Barbadian Government was first approached on May 31, 2018 and on a June 1 conference call she sought to have a number of matters clarified.
“My first response was to enquire of the state of recovery and rehabilitation in Dominica and whether there was anything sister islands in the Caribbean, like Barbados, could do to fast track the process of rehabilitation in Dominica,” Mottley said, adding that “it must be known and understood by all concerned that Ross University had not actually been operational in Dominica since the passage of Hurricane Maria.”
The university has been operating from two separate countries since last year, namely St Kitts and Tennessee, a situation which will continue into the next semester.
According to the Prime Minister the question for Ross was how soon how could they meet the expectations of all their stakeholders – their students, the parents and faculty – and then their shareholders, as a publicly traded company by housing all students and the operation of the University, if not under one roof then on one island.
She reiterated that It was only after Dominica was ruled out for the January start-up of classes and when attention had turned to at least two other potential locations in the region, two sister Caribbean islands, that Barbados embraced the idea of making itself available as a possible site for relocation.
“It should also be noted that Adtalem Global Education has extensive operations all over the world and not just in the Caribbean. Hence their choices have always been not just the Caribbean region,” Mottley stressed adding that in all discussions with Ross, it was stressed, ad nauseam, the impact the move would have on Dominica and the Dominican economy and the clear need to mitigate any fallout.
It was further revealed that the Barbadian government has been made aware of direct on-going discussions between Ross and the Dominican Government and assured by all parties concerned that there could and would be an amicable resolution of this matter.
She went on to note that beyond the issue of Ross and Dominica and Ross and Barbados, there is the bigger question of how we treat as a region these mega entities and their interests in investing in our community.
“I firmly believe that we can achieve so much more if we cooperate as a region in these matters…that is why we will shortly have before us as Ministers of Finance and thereafter as Heads of Government, the consideration of a Common Community Investment Policy and Investment Code,” Mottley indicated adding that Barbados will remain committed to continuing to help brothers and sisters in Dominica as we have done as a nation after each of the storms and hurricanes in recent years.
“We have made it clear that we will welcome with open arms any persons on faculty from Dominica and any students who come on scholarship to Ross from Dominica. We ourselves as a Government, will offer scholarships at the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute to Dominicans so that they may have as many people working ultimately to rebuild Dominica with as many skills as possible as they can,” the Head of State concluded.