News Releases

UWI’s regional leadership boosts support for students in need

For Release Upon Receipt - May 4, 2020

St. Augustine

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. May 3, 2020 – Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland, has joined The UWI’s senior executive leadership —the Vice-Chancellor, other Campus Principals, Pro Vice-Chancellors, University Bursar and University Registrar—in increasing their commitment to current students in need at this time. The aim is to promote equity of access for all students.

At the St. Augustine Campus, two funds currently exist for students in need: the Student Hardship Fund and the Adopt-A-Student Programme, both managed by the Division of Student Services and Development. The Campus Principal has pledged to increase his direct contribution to the Adopt-A-Student Programme.

The Adopt-A-Student Programme – available for current registered students, began with contributions from 32 staff members in July 2005. It has now grown to hundreds of staff members making monthly contributions on the Campus. In addition to financial support, student mental health support, available through the Counselling and Psychological Service (CAPS) is also now available through telehealth. All UWI St. Augustine students can now schedule online or telephone appointments to the Counsellor.

"Many staff, through contributions on the personal or group level (as a Department), contribute to these funds annually and a significant number of administrative, technical and service staff have been supporting students directly over the years. In this challenging time, I am really pleased to see that this support not only continues but has expanded. Although we cannot yet be certain about the course of the pandemic, we are making sure that we put the necessary support in place not only for current students, but for those who will join us come September as well,” said Professor Copeland.

The executive leadership of the regional university has recognised that the rapid transition to emergency online teaching in response to the regional spread of COVID-19 has exposed the enormity of challenges facing financially and socially marginalised students. With a student body of close to 50,000, at least 10,000 of them are believed to be functioning in a social circumstance that makes it excessively difficult to participate equally and equitably in this moment where the ability to communicate digitally is absolutely required to conduct their studies.

The principals across The UWI’s five campuses stepped up in developing remedial projects to confront this reality and to restore the level playing field provided by the physical classroom culture. The UWI alumni have been called upon to participate in fundraising and philanthropists have also responded by donating hundreds of tablets. The St. Augustine Campus is also investigating the procurement of tablets using its Student Hardship Fund, to make these devices available on a loan basis.  The offer of a salary-source contribution from the executive leadership to enhance student wellbeing “is another part of the UWI CARES project, designed to empower any excluded element of the student body,” says Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. He explained, “This is a justice gesture to further illustrate our commitment. We are here to serve and support them in their quest to succeed.”


About The UWI

For more than 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students across five campuses: Cave Hill in Barbados; Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda; Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago; and an Open Campus. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018 and 2019. The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.

As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. For more, visit


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