The University of the West Indies (UWI) says it is working with Caribbean governments to achieve economic and social growth, while transforming itself to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
According to Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, The UWI — which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year — “is the Caribbean’s greatest gift to itself”, and while much has already been achieved, even more impactful development is planned for the 21st Century.
“The UWI will be seen with sleeves rolled up in the trenches working with the governments of the region to achieve economic growth and economic transformation,” Sir Hilary said at a press conference on Friday at UWI, while noting that the biggest challenge in the region today is lack of economic and growth.
He said that the university, armed with a vision of a new modern, competitive region, is promoting entrepreneurship and becoming more entrepreneurial, as an active partner in wealth creation.
“This includes globalisation and internationalisation of The UWI, as evidenced by the establishment of institutes and alliances in China, the USA, and Lagos,” he said.
“The UWI, will continue to build relevant and coherent research for practical application by governments and corporations, with the aim of reducing social poverty and achieving economic growth. We will be aligning academia and industry,” he added.
The vice chancellor also said that the university is working to reduce costs “to boost enrolment, build capacity, and provide even more graduates with professional training for the region”.
“We have a vision of 70,000 students at the UWI within the next 10 years, and a digital revolution driven by our technology-driven open campus will provide opportunities for students across the Caribbean, especially those with no physical campuses. The open campus is already reducing the cost of a university education to many — this is how we are going to build skills in this digital age,” Sir Hilary explained.
Noting that the UWI has been resilient over the past 70 years, growing from early beginnings in Jamaica in 1948 with 33 students in a wooden building to nearly 40,000 students today with three modern campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the virtual/physical open campus, Sir Hilary said “we are implementing a new funding model and working to ensure not just revenue resilience, but that we thrive beyond resilience”.
In its 70th year the UWI “is poised to deliver even more value to the region”, Sir Hilary declared.
The press conference was also addressed by the university’s principals Professor Archibald McDonald of the Mona Campus, Jamaica; Professor Eudine Barriteau, Cave Hill, Barbados; Professor Brian Copeland, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; and Dr Luz Longsworth, open campus. They shared various initiatives being implemented in keeping with the university’s ‘Beyond 70’ vision.