Letter: Jammy of Jamaica

June 8, 2001

Until three years ago, I was an academic in a "new" British university. I left to pursue better pay and conditions in the private sector, but was dismayed at the loss of quality of life. So I came back into academia, only this time to the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

Here, senior lecturers get paid only up to £30,000, but also receive free housing or an extra 30 per cent of salary.

In addition, the university provides a 10 per cent pension contribution on top of the academics' 5 per cent and there is subsidised medical insurance. Academics also receive a £500 book grant and £2,000 a year for attending conferences.

New appointments receive support for research and the teaching load is considerably below that which I experienced in the UK, at eight hours' contact time a week.

There are no heating bills and petrol is 30p a litre.

If even developing nations can afford better pay and conditions for academics than Britain can, what hope is there of stopping the brain drain?

Tony Ward
Senior lecturer in psychology
University of the West Indies

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