We must support the ‘idea’.

May 18, 2022

Dear readers

We must focus on progressive ways to diversify the Jersey economy, we cannot afford to be complacent or staid. All ideas are worth exploring and not merely dissing just because one person may not like it, because that idea just might work.

A perfect case in point is Susana Rowles article in the JEP 14 May 2022. Her apparent reaction to the suggestion that Jersey explore its own national university is to say it won’t work. What would she have said upon the news that late Colin Powell and his team were developing Jersey as a finance centre back in the 1960/70’s That little island just off France. What would we have to offer, after all we as a small island nation have no past history of success, have we?

Turning to the idea of a University of Jersey. Yes, it would cost money to develop. Yes, we would have to attract lecturers and the like. Yes, issues relating to accommodation would have to be solved. But that doesn’t mean we must immediately reject the same.

Look at some of the positives.

A University of Jersey could help bring back some of the vibrancy Jersey once had. You only have to go to a university town to notice that all are young and lively in outlook. It also provides ready talent for Jersey industries.

Moreover, a university can have a significant positive impact on an economy. As the Hatch Regeneris study on impact of universities reported “…universities are a very significant factor in many local economies….it can have a huge local economic impact.” Universities are hotbeds of innovation and entrepreneurship. Universities in partnership with government, business, academic research and technologies could help drive our economy into other areas.

Universities attract talent. Universities create jobs. Universities provide trickle down benefits to the economy. Businesses for example need staff and this could be a ready supply of keen young minds.

We already have the building blocks: a fantastic leadership team at Highlands with students that outstrip the UK average with the proportion of students gaining a first class or upper-second class degree staying consistently above 75%. We need to build on this success.

Just look south to Gibraltar. They have a landmass of 6.8 km² about the same size as St Mary. They set up a university from scratch in 2015 and by all accounts it is doing pretty well. I am sure they had one or two dissenters criticising that idea.

The negativity of some in Jersey is not helpful to the many. We, at the Progress Party and its coalition partner, the Jersey Liberal Conservatives, want to encourage and hear more from people about possible ideas to diversify and develop our economy. We want the next government to remove the barriers to setting up new business and to assist the Jersey entrepreneur and go-getters.

We must support the ‘idea’. We must allow the platform for those with ideas to flourish. Some ideas may be explored and developed, some may fail, but one or two may just work.

Let’s put the negativity behind us and develop a new progressive way of working in this island. We are, as a party, supporters of the ‘idea’ and look forward to many more such ideas in the coming days, months and years.

Eddie Noel
Treasurer of The Progress Party

First published in Jersey Evening Post | 18 May 2022

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