MP Lake says USM has to become National University for the Country


PHILIPSBURG – The University of St. Martin (USM) needs to become the national university of the country.

United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, who is a member of parliament’s permanent Committee for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA), says, if Sint Maarten is really serious about education, priority has to be given to the development of USM as a national university.

During the CECYSA session in the House of Parliament on Wednesday, MP Lake posed a number of questions with respect to developments at USM and to the Minister of Education with respect to government’s position regarding a number of areas.

“USM has developed very slowly, but not fast enough.  If we want USM to be the first choice for the students then things should be in place.  Students have to have the guarantee that their degree is recognized by other educational institutions.

“The forefathers of USM had a vision for the educational institution, and we need to complete that process where USM becomes our national university for higher education.

“The board and management have been taking steps recently such as signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) that will allow students from St. Maarten/St. Martin and from other parts of the Caribbean region to obtain accredited degrees at USM on Pond Island.

“Despite USM being faced with a number of challenges, steps are being taking in the right direction and taking our own home-grown institution of higher learning to the next level. Perhaps USM needs to revisit its vison and mission statements based on where it is today and where it would like to be in five years.

“Efforts are underway to work more closely with the private sector by involving the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association in USMs hospitality program.  A win-win needs to be developed between USM and Government where we achieve this status in the next couple of years.

“I would like to thank the late Ms. Lilian Stephens for being a mentor to me while teaching for the first few years at USM.  The late Stephens was an unsung hero and visionary for USM.  I never saw an Educator that had such a great passion for the students and the University. She worked day and night without getting any credit for her work.  Thank you Ms. Stephens,” MP Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

MP Lake added that his colleague MP Hon. Christophe Emmanuel as well as some other fellow MPs made some very good points that should be taken into consideration by all concerned, adding, “If all stakeholders work together, we can make USM the best University in the Caribbean.

MP Lake would like to see the Minister of Education re-allocating funds on the approved 2015 national budget where these funds would then go to USM, and an increase in subsidy in the 2016 budget.

MP Lake added that USM is the education arm that educates and strengthens and helps build the country’s population and all assistance necessary should be provided.