News Releases

UWI takes prestigious Rhodes Scholarships

For Release Upon Receipt - November 23, 2012

St. Augustine

A student of The University of the West Indies (UWI) has once again won the prestigious Jamaica Rhodes Scholarship for 2013. Vincent Taylor, a 22-year-old computer scientist from the Mona campus of The UWI, was selected from a field of 11 finalists, after two gruelling days of interviews.

“I am extremely elated and also humbled by the confidence that the committee has placed in me,” Taylor said after the announcement by Jamaica’s Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen.

The holder of a double major degree in computer science and electronics, Taylor is currently reading for a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) at the Mona campus, specialising in wireless network sensor security. In the sixty-four years since the founding of The UWI, more than 60 of its graduates have won the highly regarded Rhodes scholarship.

Hailing from the rural parish of St Elizabeth, Taylor also paid tribute to his fellow finalists and encouraged them to apply again for the award. “This is my second time around and I hit the jackpot,” he quipped. He also thanked his parents, teachers and peers for their support in helping him to achieve the award.

He intends to continue in the field of network security while at Oxford University, where the Rhodes scholarship is tenable. “Technology is becoming pervasive across the world and we need to have our networks secured so that our personal information and transactions will be safe,” Taylor added.

Sir Patrick said the selection process was “one of the most difficult in recent years” because of the brilliance of the five male and six female candidates. “This is one of the hardest ones [selections] we’ve had. The most difficult one in a number of years and the reason for that is because we have so many brilliant candidates this year,” he stated.

The Governor-General also announced that because of the high quality of the candidates, at the recommendation of the selection committee, another candidate, Dr. Katherine Innis, was sent to Barbados to compete for the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship. However, a Trinidadian graduate of The UWI, Cornelius Kiron Neale, emerged the winner of that award.

Secretary of the selection committee Peter Goldson (a Rhodes scholar in 1985), said the committee members were “very impressed” with the calibre of candidates this year. 

“It does say something encouraging about The University of the West Indies and our educational system when there are so many brilliant young men and women, who have done so well. It really is very encouraging,” he remarked. 

Taylor said he chose to do his first degree at The UWI because it only takes three years, as opposed to four, and he would be one year ahead of his counterparts. Secondly, the approach that The UWI takes in its computer courses is similar to that of leading universities such as MIT, “so I saw no reason to go overseas to do my first degree,” he explained. 

His experience at UWI has been “very enlightening, amazing and fulfilling at the same time,” he added. “I’ve participated in a number of activities, and I also lived in on Chancellor Hall, which gave me numerous opportunities for role in leadership and event planning. Hall life and the various clubs and societies have helped to develop me holistically.”

The Rhodes scholarship is named after Cecil John Rhodes, a British diamond magnate and imperialist, after whom the colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named. In his will, Rhodes bequeathed the greater part of his substantial fortune to establish the scholarship scheme.

Candidates for Rhodes Scholarships are selected on the basis of qualities of character as well as intellect. Rhodes’ aim was to provide future leaders of the English-speaking world with an education which would broaden their views and develop their abilities. He chose to endow these scholarships at Oxford University because he believed its residential colleges provided an environment that was conducive to personal development.

Rhodes hoped that those who benefited from his scholarships would go on to improve the lot of mankind, and work towards maintaining peace between nations.

The Rhodes scholarship is awarded based on:

Literary and scholastic attainments

Energy to use one’s talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness and success in sports

Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship

Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings

In recognition of the centenary of the foundation of the Rhodes Trust in 2004, four Oxford alumni were awarded honorary degrees by the university, including the late Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, author, dancer and choreographer. The Rhodes Trust also established the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies at The UWI, an annual award given to a resident of the Caribbean under the age of 35 worth £10,000, with an associated travel grant of £2,000, for all areas of scholarship in the field of cultural studies, including the creative and visual arts.


About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 45 physical site locations across the region, serving 16 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)