May 2018

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On April 27, at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, the highest governing body of The UWI, the University Council, gathered for its annual meeting. Here, the Council, which includes representatives appointed by the regional governments of The UWI contributing countries, discusses and makes decisions on the University’s business, including its financial, administrative and academic affairs, and its projections. The Vice-Chancellor presented the 2016-2017 report (

Chancellor of The UWI, Robert Bermudez, hosted and presided over it for the first time in his capacity as Chairman of the University Council, and took the opportunity to call for reforms to the University’s management system and its approach to cost management. Here is an excerpt from his remarks.

I was advised by Sir Alister McIntyre, the former Vice-Chancellor, that I should spend my first year getting to know the institution and its people. This has proved to be good advice. I cannot claim to know enough but I have made progress. I wish to thank everyone whom I have met for the courtesy and kindness with which they have received me.

I have come to have an understanding of the strengths and challenges of this organization. Without doubt the greatest strength lies in its people and their enormous talent; the loyalty which over the years they have built up for this institution.

The challenges are many, but the most pressing is the need for reform, both of our management systems and our funding model. A change in mindset, when it comes to the financing of the university and our approach to cost management, is essential.

The traditional model of the State paying the vast majority of the economic cost is unsustainable due to the fiscal challenges in the region.

It is impractical and to my mind it is unhealthy, as it does not put sufficient pressure on the management to rethink the delivery systems and the fixed cost of providing education. We spend too much time lobbying with the Governments to pay their bills and not enough time on reducing the operating cost of the University.

In order to resolve this vexing issue we need a collaborative approach between the university and the contributing countries, understanding that there are probably no simple solutions and that change will need time.

The University has faced many serious challenges in its 70 years, each event has seen it triumph over adversity and I am certain that once we place trust in our people, empower them and provide sound leadership, we will solve the problem, strengthen the University, and ensure that it will continue to do its work of being the most important development tool in the English-speaking Caribbean.