Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the Ross University School of Medicine’s decision to cease operations in Dominica, and move to Barbados.
On August 3, it was announced by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, that the university, which is said to contribute as much as 30% of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), had officially ceased operations in the nation. Shortly thereafter, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, revealed that Ross University will be moving to their shores.
Mottley has since been accused by Barbadians and people across the region of “poaching” Ross University from Dominica.
At a press conference, on Monday, Gonsalves stated that neither the Prime Minister of Dominica nor the Prime Minister of Barbados should be blamed for the university’s actions.
He explained that Ross University is primarily a branch of a business (Adtalem Global Education), and as such, the proprietors took the decision which they believed was in the best interest of the company.
“I don’t think that anyone can reasonably blame PM of losing Ross University; neither can one reasonably blame Mia Motley of poaching Ross University,” he said. “The matter which comes out stark to me, first of all, is that a business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium-term, long-term interests.”
Gonsalves further noted that “Ross was in Dominica for 40 years. Ross was built in Dominica, basically. The 40 years of Ross in Dominica, clearly they didn’t consider that to be of any importance to them.”
The Vincentian Prime Minister also said that he is not aware whether Skerrit and Mottley deliberated prior to the move.
However, Gonsalves revealed that he had held discussions with Skerrit pertaining to All Saints University School of Medicine, and their decision to partially relocate to St. Vincent, last year.
“I don’t know if there were conversations between my friends Roosevelt Skerrit and Mia Motley,” he articulated. “I know that when All Saints wanted to come here, and they wanted only to set up a partial operation, because they’re still keeping in Dominica, I told them I could only entertain them if I talked to Roosevelt, and I called Roosevelt. He said ‘It’s alright because we have Ross’… Always I insisted that when things return to normal, those students who had come from Dominica should go back.”
In October 2017, after the passage of Hurricane Maria, All Saints students were temporarily relocated to St Vincent, while staff remained at the Dominica Campus.
In May 2018, President of All Saints University, Dr. Joshua Yusuf, reassured Dominicans that the school would return to the island by May 2018.