PHILIPSBURG–The draft higher education law will be “shared” with University of St. Martin (USM) for consultation as of next week, Education Minister Jorien Wuite said during the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday in giving an update on the progress of the legislation.
She said this will be an “important step” in the process “to ensure that we make progress on promises made earlier to have the legislation passed by the end of this year.”
Wuite had told Members of Parliament (MPs) during a recent meeting of the Central Committee that the draft ordinance had been “advancing rapidly” and informal consultations would have started with stakeholders by the end of this month. The document will then be vetted by the Legal Affairs Department and the Council of Ministers will then make a decision on the draft.
Formal consultations will then be held with stakeholders such as USM, American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine and Social Economic Council SER, following which Legal Affairs will conduct its final vetting of the draft and the document will go back to the Council of Ministers for decision-making. The draft will then be sent to the Council of Advice before it goes to Parliament for debate.
The finalisation of the ordinance on higher education is one of the conditions in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the former National Alliance-led government and USM last year in an effort to keep the doors of the university open. In the MOU, Government committed to making the ordinance on higher education available during the second half of this year. The MOU also outlines agreements with respect to financial audits and additional subsidy for USM for four months, amongst other things.
Government has been adhering to its end of the agreement and the agreed four additional payments via incidental subsidy to USM as stipulated in the MOU have been paid.