News Releases

UWI remains committed to expanding access to Higher Education

For Release Upon Receipt - September 17, 2015

St. Augustine

“The complexity of the relationship between The University of the West Indies and regional governments is not readily understood,” says Pro Vice-Chancellor and St Augustine Campus Principal, Professor Clement Sankat. Notwithstanding the University’s charter, which defines its autonomy, its history has been one of partnerships with governments, both at local and regional levels; primarily because they provide the majority of the funding for the institution.

“While I would not go so far as to say that governments interfere with the running of the university, there is strong representation – mainly ministerial – at the University Council, the very highest sanctum where decisions are made,” he said, adding that it would be unrealistic to expect there is not to be collaboration. “Therein lies the delicacy,” he said. “As in all relationships, the challenge is to find the balance so that one partner does not dominate the other.” 

Tracing the history of partnerships between the State and the St Augustine Campus since its inception in 1960, Professor Sankat spoke glowingly of the establishment of the Campus and the Faculty of Engineering with the strong support of former Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams. Professor Sankat said it is why he was surprised that former Campus Principal, Professor George Maxwell Richards, made those statements at the opening of the 2015-2016 Law Term yesterday, September 16.

Professor Sankat said that plans for expansion into the South and Tobago had been high on his priority list ever since he became Campus Principal seven years ago. “It is a matter of record that in my very first address to the Academic Board at St. Augustine in January 2008, I said one of my main objectives was to extend the Campus into the South,” he said. This he said was one of his four pillars then for the university, extending its reach to broader geographical spaces within the nation.   Since then and through extensive research, engagement and approvals at the highest level of The UWI, the South Campus, satellite of St. Augustine has come into being.

He pointed out that over time the University has had to expand to different parts of the country and the region. Satellite campuses are a common method of accommodating universities’ expansion plans, especially with increasing enrolment and limited geographical space, he said, citing the UWI Mona, Western Jamaica campus at Montego Bay as one example. 

“This has nothing to do with politics,” he said. “It is about the University’s commitment to increase and improve access to higher education.  It is about Universities in national development.  It is a pity that these issues have been raised in this manner, I would have expected some prior dialogue at the very least,” he said.



About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)