The University of the West Indies –
Relevant, responsive to the needs of the Caribbean
by Professor Nigel E. Harris
This has been a very busy year which has been spent meeting and listening to stakeholders and putting in place people and programmes necessary to enhance the performance of The University of the West Indies.
The University and the Caribbean countries in which it is anchored, are undergoing a period of immense regional and global change and so, our University must now not only educate, but must also play a role in research that can drive creation of new products and services as well as help address our most challenging problems.Our aim is to be:
- First in providing high quality Caribbean-relevant undergraduate and graduate programmes
- First in knowledge development and research in the Caribbean and world leaders in producing new knowledge about all things Caribbean
- First as a centre of intellectual growth and development in the Caribbean and port of first call for Caribbean governments, businesses and other organizations seeking strategic and policy advise
Following discussions over the past year, with stakeholders including leaders of government, the private sector regional and international organizations, we have defined four major imperatives for the UWI:
- Strengthening the productivity of The University of the West Indies around a cohesive strategic plan including areas such as the restructuring of graduate programmes, the examination system and data management systems, and implementation of performance and accountability requirements for staff, departments and faculties.
- Rebuilding the contribution and presence of the university in the UWI-12 countries, based on a systematic identification of their human resource needs.
- Expansion of programmes to address critical growth and development needs of the Caribbean.
- Broadening the outreach of and financial base of the institution.
As the region moves towards greater integration, we must also as a university, address the increasing concentration of students on the campus of countries in which they are located.Our “UWI Caribbean Integration Programme” is designed to promote movement of students between campuses, encouraging them to spend at least one semester on another campus or “UWI-12’ community college with approved degree programmes.
With respect to providing consistent and strategic advice to governments, regional organizations and the private sector in the region, we are taking three broad initiatives:
- Creation of a university-wide consulting company to better mobilize expertise in our academic community to address specific policy and strategic planning needs of governments, regional and national agencies, the private sector and other organizations.
- Creation of university-wide centres that will address areas of vulnerability in the Caribbean, beginning with a Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction & Management and a Centre in Criminology & Social Justice.
We would also like to enhance Caribbean competitiveness by seeking to expand programmes in areas such as biotechnology, computer sciences and information technology, energy and tourism.
To broaden the financial base and reach of the UWI organization, we have embarked on a range of initiatives to generate additional revenue.
These include advocacy for loan programmes to support student fees, advocacy for enhanced funding by governments for research, creation of new business ventures such as a university consulting company and enhancement of Alumni Relations, Marketing and Institutional Advancement to generate more philanthropic gifts.
There remain many challenges to achieving our goals of transforming The University of the West Indies into a world class entity.
Not least among them is the geographic divide between the three main campuses and UWI-12, lack of resources and the high cost of travel and telecommunications and internet connectivity which limit opportunities for greater integration and collaboration between our campuses and centres.
However, we are totally committed to putting in place the people and programmes necessary to enhance the performance of the University in delivering high quality services, to increase the value we bring to UWI-12 countries, and to mobilize our communities in additional ways to address disaster preparedness and crime, and to broaden the financial base of our institution.