Judana Murphy, Gleaner Writer
The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) has forged a three-year partnership with the Sergo Ordzhonikidze Russian State Geological Prospecting University to explore avenues for joint research.
This comes at a time when the Papine, St Andrew-based university is finalising a bachelor’s degree programme in Mines and Quarry Management.
Speaking at the signing of the memorandum of understanding, dean of the faculty of the Built Environment, Dr Garfield Young, said the mining industry in Jamaica has not been well regulated and the Ministry of Transport and Mining has indicated that more formal training is needed for industry players.
Young highlighted that the United Nations Development Programme is supporting the development of the new course of study.
“So far, we have a full draft of the course proposal but it needs to go through all the university processes,” he said, adding that he hopes approval will be granted for the start of the next academic year.
In 2018, it was reported that there were only five inspectors to assess the more than 200 quarries across Jamaica.
According to the Mines and Geology Division, to be an inspector, one must have a first degree in a science-based discipline, however, UTech’s proposed course of study will be specific to the field.
At the signing ceremony, UTech President, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, said the new collaboration will serve to advance the relationship between both countries.
“It will no doubt open many doors to study and research with the possibilities of impacting development and innovation in our respective countries,” Vasciannie said.
“Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences. We have seen where the study and understanding of applied geology has become an increasingly important branch of engineering science needed to prepare humanity to tackle important concerns,” the president explained.
Among the environmental challenges he mentioned were climate change, water supply, natural hazards and matters pertaining to the laws of the sea.
The Russian university recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and Rector Professor Dr Vadim Kosyanov said it has had international students from 56 countries but none from Jamaica.
Kosyanov explained that Russia’s mining industry operates in a strict manner and quarry managers are required to be trained at the master’s level.
“We are ready to invite your teaching staff for an internship or academic exchange with our teaching staff and we can also organise visits to the mining industries in Russia, which are gigantic by the way,” he said.
The exchange will last for a year or half and participants will leave Russia with a diploma.
The partnership will seek to enrich academic programmes offered by both institutions in the areas of applied geology, geological exploration technology and related areas of study.
It will also explore joint research projects on topics of mutual interest and provide opportunities for staff and student exchange.