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Universities must first serve their communities, says Simpson Miller

Saturday, November 10, 2012 | 11:26 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on Jamaican universities to look beyond rankings and serve the communities in which they are located.

She said that Jamaican graduates from local universities had shown that they were among the best in their respective fields internationally, but added that university rankings, however, should not be viewed in isolation.

Simpson Miller was delivering remarks Friday at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Conference of Executive Heads of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which was held at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

“Our students, I noted, stood toe-to-toe, and successfully matched minds, wits, strategies, techniques and intellect with students form ivy league universities who are considered to be global tertiary-level power-houses. Each time they have faced them – whether it is in law debates or ICT competitions, in natural sciences, the humanities, social sciences or interdisciplinary studies - our students have shown them who the world leaders really are,” said Simpson Miller.

Commenting on the publishing of university rankings, which the Prime Minister noted could help to establish quality assurance procedures, strengthen the culture of transparency in university and society and improve competition among Universities, should not be viewed in isolation.

“We need to align university rankings with the purpose of higher education in our region. To solve complex societal problems, higher education must take account of social responsiveness. That means, ensuring that our universities address major social challenges. It means they must engage meaningfully with communities. The task of social responsiveness also involves sensible allocation of university resources to research,” Simpson Miller said.

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