News Releases

UWI Open Campus officially launched at CARICOM Conference

For Release Upon Receipt - July 7, 2008

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies (UWI) has officially launched its newest campus, the UWI Open Campus. UWI Vice Chancellor (VC), Professor E. Nigel Harris formally launched the UWI Open Campus at an international news conference during the 29th meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the CARICOM Community (CARICOM) in Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday 2nd July, 2008. The Open Campus will formally open its doors on August 1, 2008, as part of the ongoing UWI 60th Anniversary Celebrations. The Chairman of the Open Campus Council is the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir K. Dwight Venner.

Professor Harris identified the Open Campus as an important aspect of the University’s continued commitment to broaden and enhance the reach of the institution to the people of the Caribbean and reiterated the significance of the timing of the Open Campus launch, which came at a high-profile gathering of Caribbean leaders, in the same year that The University of the West Indies is celebrating its 60th Anniversary.

“[In]1948, the UWI initiated an Extra-Mural Department, which established sites in all of the participating countries of the fledgling institution…intended to educate and enlighten populations of Caribbean people living well outside the walls of the University…In the 1980s, the UWI established the Distance Education Unit utilising telecommunications systems long before distance education became a popular means for North American universities, to provide instruction using online technologies,” said VC Harris.The UWI Open Campus is an amalgamation of the previous Office of the Board for Non-Campus Countries & Distance Education (BNNCDE), the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), the UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC), and the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU).The Vice Chancellor revealed that “This entity is designed to capitalise on advances in online technologies and on the platform of over 50 sites…to advance a more student-friendly, much broader basket of degree, diploma and certificate programmes for Caribbean people who live beyond the immediate vicinity of our established campuses…For more than two years, we have been offering nursing degree programmes, bachelors in education programmes and other courses designed to enhance the opportunities of the working public to uplift themselves educationally, without necessarily enrolling on one of the three campuses of the University.”He spoke of the little known fact that, for over 60 years, the University has been offering considerable knowledge, scholarship, culture and enriched discourse to the Caribbean Community through the Extra-Mural Department, which evolved into the School of Continuing Studies and which now forms a part of the new campus.Vice Chancellor Harris also spoke to the development of the Open Campus as an essential strategic element of the University’s ongoing five-year strategic plan to transform its curricula and education systems, as well as to enhance the postgraduate programmes and research productivity. He stated that “the Open Campus will insist on quality education relevant to the region, student-centredness, student-friendly services, and the creation of knowledge and outreach to the Caribbean Community outside the walls of the University, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean, Belize, the Cayman Islands and in rural areas in campus countries.”

Also speaking at the official news conference was Professor Hazel Simmons-McDonald, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Open Campus, who referred to the new entity as “a campus for the times and a campus for the future.” Professor Simmons-McDonald pointed out that the new campus would have the same level of autonomy as other UWI campuses with its own Academic Board, financial management, registry, administrative and student support systems.

She said that “the Open Campus currently utilises a wide variety of distance and mixed-mode delivery methods and has a staff of almost 400 professionals to support its growing student population across the region. We work very closely with faculty on the three other UWI campuses, as well as with other tertiary institutions and development agencies throughout the Caribbean to design, develop and deliver quality programmes by distance to meet the learning needs of the people of the Caribbean.”


The University of the West Indies (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, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. 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.


UWI Vice Chancellor, Prof. E. Nigel Harris, is coordinating UWI staff, students and alumni to organise region-wide signature 60th Anniversary events. The Anniversary Celebrations were launched with a formal Opening Ceremony on Saturday 12th January, 2008 at UWI Cave Hill, Barbados. On July 12th to 19th, 2008, there will be a special Convocation Week at UWI Mona, Jamaica, which will include an official reception hosted by UWI Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne, and a formal banquet to be attended by several regional heads of state. As the culmination of the yearlong celebrations, a gala black-tie dinner will be hosted by UWI St. Augustine Campus on December 12th, 2008. Proceeds from all UWI 60th Anniversary initiatives will be channelled into a special UWI Regional Endowment Fund, which will facilitate infrastructural projects across the region. For more information on the UWI 60th Anniversary, please visit or contact the UWI 60th Anniversary Secretariat at; (Tel.) 876 977 0014, Ext. 2525; or uwi60staugustine@sta.uwi.eduSecretariat, Office of the Vice Chancellor, UWI Mona, Jamaica or the Local Organising Committee at (Tel) 868 662-2002 Ext. 3635.