News Releases

Media Statement - UWI Vice-Chancellor's statement on remarks by former T&T President

For Release Upon Receipt - September 25, 2015


Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. W.I.  25 September 2015 The Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) notes the recent remarks by former President of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Professor George Maxwell Richards during the ceremonial opening of the 2015-2016 law term. The statement below is issued in response to the remarks and subsequent discourse emerging in the media and other public platforms:

“We at The UWI celebrate Professor George Maxwell Richards.  He is a distinguished, world-renowned academic, a legend and commanding figure that has contributed significantly to the development of The UWI and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, and so we must commend and thank him for his contributions.

The continued intimate relationship between the regional university and the ruling regional governments is something we treasure. In reality, the more dynamic and expansive a country’s education policy, and the more dynamic its minister of education, the deeper and more intimate is the relationship between The UWI and the ruling government. These policies and deepened working relationships sometimes translate into high economic investment as the country’s administration recognises the importance of the development of its tertiary level sector. The intimacy that exists in this context can be easily misunderstood but it is very necessary for development.

The UWI is grateful for the investment in education in terms of its expansion into South Trinidad, which will serve the country and region in the years ahead. A project like The UWI St Augustine Campus in Penal/Debe is the largest public investment in The UWI since the establishment of the Cave Hill Campus in 1963, and so there will inevitably be a closer association between university planning and government planning. It will also, understandably, generate greater public discourse.  

Projects of such significance and scope are moved through the university’s committees with diligence; with some committees being chaired by the Principal, others by the Vice-Chancellor, but all being approved by the Chancellor.

From the broader point of university governance, over the last 50 years, the governments of the region have been visionary when it comes to The UWI with respect to the significant financial investments, while allowing the university to manage and chart its growth as an autonomous regional institution serving the broader public interest. Autonomy continues to be an asset we value and respect. At the same time, as governments change, we seek to build intimate and trusted relationships with and support the new governments because we want governments to succeed. Our ability to better mobilise our collective regional strength, while serving national agendas is critical to our role as a driving force for Caribbean development.

The site at Penal/Debe is particularly important with respect to community engagement, integration and impact. The investment in its full development offers vast potential to fortify the country’s development plan, and drive economic diversification that will not only improve the stability and wealth creation potential, but also offer better alignment and distribution of social capital with economic activity, and bridge existing north-south barriers.

Referencing the mission of our noble institution, which is to support the inclusive development of our Caribbean region, at the last CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, I spoke about the future of The UWI and our strategic direction. As part of our leadership vision for the regional institution, I assured Heads of Governments that The UWI will get deeper into the engine room and drive growth and development.  As an institution we are focussing on an even greater alignment between UWI and wealth generation. The region has to come out of this recession, and this can only occur through a deepening of the relationship between UWI, the regional governments and the private sector, but deepening does not mean that we are weakening autonomy.”  


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 fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The 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.

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

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