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Oriens Ex Occidente Lux - A light rising from the West

Originally started as an independent offshoot of the University of London, The University of the West Indies currently serves 17 English-speaking regional territories, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in numerous fields of study: the arts, sciences, business, law, the humanities. 

Although St. Augustine is the main campus in Trinidad and Tobago, there is also a satellite campus in nearby Mount Hope that houses the Faculty of Medical Sciences. The university was founded in 1948 in Mona, Jamaica, as The University College of the West Indies, based on a recommendation by the Asquith Commission, which had been established five years prior to review the state of higher education in the then-British colonies. Fourteen years after the Mona campus opened, in 1962, the college received independent university status, in the same year that Jamaica itself received independence from Great Britain.  

 

The Trinidad campus of the regional university, which began in 1960, was borne out of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture; Barbados’ Cave Hill campus came on stream three years after. The three locations have key faculties that are common to all the territories – Humanities and Education, for instance, and Social Sciences, all mainstream disciplines. St. Augustine, however, is the only campus that boasts faculties of Science and Technology and Agriculture, areas of expertise that have long been interwoven into the history of the Caribbean islands. It also houses the tremendously popular Faculty of Engineering. Enrollment numbers across the region now total about 60,000. 

 

The University Coat of Arms

College of Arms Description

A university’s coat of arms embodies its principles, its personality and its sense of tradition. The University of the West Indies’ Coat of Arms dates back to July 18, 1949. 

It consists of a strong shield with six wavy stripes of white and blue, representing the Caribbean Sea. In the middle of the shield lies open book trimmed with red and gold, symbolic of a thirst for knowledge. At the top of  the shield sits a golden lion, a recognition of the region’s colonial connections to the British monarchy; in this case, however, the lion is covered with black spots. This was the lion crest assigned to Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, the university’s first Chancellor. 

The crowning glory of the crest is a pelican, perched on a wreath. Not only is this regal bird a fixture across the region, it also symbolizes the university’s role as a nurturer of the young and the infinite potential for graduates of the university to soar to new heights.