News Releases

Vice-Chancellor Beckles: “This UK Development Should Not Be Taken Lightly”

For Release Upon Receipt - June 27, 2016


UWI to host Symposium on Brexit and its implications for the Caribbean

Reaching the limits of emotional despair over how to manage its post-imperial, ethnic nationalism and challenged to participate in the global world as an equal partner, the English have retreated to their traditional identity base at the expense of every other consideration. 

It has taken this strategic step in order to go forward as old England versus the world. This is a desperate attempt to reinvent a still idealized past in which ‘Englishness’ is celebrated as a distinct standard not to be entangled or diminished by deep association.

The predictable, highly individualistic action poses both a short-term as well as a long-term threat to the performance of Caricom economies, and should trigger immediate strategic regional reactions even before Heads meet in Guyana next week.

Every aspect of Caribbean life will be adversely affected by this development; from trade relations to immigration, tourism to financial relations, and cultural engagements to foreign policy. There will be a significant redefinition and reshaping of Caricom-UK engagements. The region's fragile economic recovery is threatened.

Caricom should use this development in order to deepen and strengthen its internal operations and external relations to the wider world. It's a moment for Caricom to come closer together rather than drift apart. The region should not be seen as mirroring this mentality of cultural and political insularity, but should reaffirm the importance of regionalism within the global context for the future.

Those driving the "leave" agenda knew very well the likelihood of broad based negative global effects of their option but chose to jettison external obligations, a critical feature of hyper-conservative, extreme nationalism.

Next week The UWI will host a symposium in Mona, Jamaica as an in-depth academic reflection on the relevant themes, with a view to facilitating regional action ahead of the Caricom  Conference of Heads of Government. This UK development should not be taken lightly; it should be fully researched as it constitutes an obvious structural threat to the sustainability of economic institutions in the region.


About UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles was installed as The 8th Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies in May 2015. In this capacity he is the principal academic and administrative officer of The University. The Vice-Chancellor is charged with advancing the University’s academic reputation and global standing, while championing the strategic direction.

Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies on May 1, 2015, Professor Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados for thirteen years (2002-2015).

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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 BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad 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. For more information, visit

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