Roseau, Dominica: Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced today, that after 40 years ROSS University School of Medicine (RUSM) will be pulling up stakes.

ROSS University has issued a statement announcing its departure from Dominica and subsequent relocation to Barbados.

“As we all know this has been speculated for some time now,” Prime Minister Skerrit stated. “A few days ago officials from ROSS formally gave word to us on this matter,” he said.

“Since Maria, the officials of Dominica have been in constant contact with officials of ROSS, to see how we could cushion the impact of Maria. Over the last ten months, we explored all options that one could think of in our discussions with ROSS, at the end of the day the officials of ROSS like any other business person reserve and exercise the right of the shareholders, and the many interests to include but not limited to parents, students, faculty, and sponsors. This is a direct consequence of Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Erica.”  the Prime Minister revealed.

“Let us make it very clear, that ROSS loves Dominica and Dominica loves ROSS, we’ve had a very long relationship over the years,” Skerrit continued, ” Had it not been for these two storms, these two weather systems, there would never have been any consideration of ROSS University’s departure from Dominica.”

The Prime Minister went on to say, that 3 years ago Government and ROSS had renewed their partnership agreement for 25 years, with a wide range of concessions including the redevelopment of the campus.

“None of us can wish away these weather systems, the fact remains they happened, Erica and Maria, which brought considerable damage to Dominica. ROSS I am satisfied tried everything, certainly, they tried everything, this is now almost a year since Maria and we all recognize too that there are businesses in Dominica, owned by Dominicans that have not recommenced operations since Maria, and there are some that have reduced their scale of operations.”  The Prime Minister did claim however that some businesses had actually expanded their scale of operations.

He added ROSS is leaving the door open for a return to Dominica of several aspects of their US $5 million dollar operations.

However, despite the Prime Minister’s assurances that in the days ahead government will meet with those affected to discuss what’s next, the leader of Dominica Freedom Party, Kent Vital, placed the blame for this very critical loss at the feet of the Skerrit administration.

“We have to understand how important the operations of ROSS University was to the economy of Dominica,” Vital said in a statement.

Vital said after the demise of the export of bananas to Europe following the loss of preferential access, “The operation of ROSS University was the most significant activity energizing the economy of Dominica. Now, we have lost that too.”

The Dominica Freedom Party understands what a chilling reality that is to the people of Portsmouth and the people of Dominica. We stand ready to assist and to salvage this dire situation.

There is absolutely no reason that we should have lost the operations of ROSS University if we had a capable government managing the affairs of this country.

“My people, do not be deceived by the utterances of gibberish by the Prime Minister as he seeks to hide his shame over this injustice that his government has done to this country.” Vital added.

ROSS did not leave just because of the impact of hurricane Maria, to be sure Maria aggravated an already bad situation, but the truth involves much more than that. Dominica was once at the forefront of this off-shore education sector when we first started, we were among the first Caribbean countries to run with this concept, but we dropped the ball. Vital continued.

We did not appreciate what it takes to solidify our competitiveness in that industry and as a result, other countries entered the arena and now we have lost this extremely important operation. How have we failed? Vital asked, how did this government fail to enhance the competitiveness of this sector?

Vital went on to list several ways he believes government failed, saying the Picard area was developed without adequate attention to physical planning. There was not sufficient attention paid to the overall aesthetics of the area including streetscape, landscape. Adequate efforts were not made to organize landlords and other businesses in the area in other to allow them to interact with ROSS’ management for the mutual benefit of the University, the businesses and the people of Portsmouth. Vital said.

“An air access has been a major constraint in that regard, and after 18 years in office and after several, election promises the ruling administration has not been able to solve this problem.” Mr. Vital said. This is one important reason why we have lost the operation of ROSS University, he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mortley expressed her excitement about the economic activity Barbados will experience as a result of the country’s partnership with ROSS. Adding Barbados will work to offer scholarships to Dominican students at the post-secondary level a result of the excepted economic movement ROSS will bring to Barbados. RUSM is expected to begin classes at their new campus on January 5th, 2019.

See the statement from RUSM