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The UWI’s “Triple Firsts” in latest Times Higher Education rankings

For Release Upon Receipt - July 17, 2020


Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The UWI announces the University’s latest rankings at a virtual event on Friday, July 17, 2020.

Regional Headquarters, Jamaica, Friday, July 17, 2020. Just short of a year ago, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles indicated the intention of the University, “to be located in the top 3% of ranked universities by the end of the current strategic planning cycle in 2023.” Referencing an energetic and proactive leadership team of campus principals, pro vice-chancellors, multi-layered administrators and academics, research professors and student leaders, the Vice-Chancellor expressed confidence in the team’s ability to remove doubt from the institution in respect of its capacity to break new ground.

On Friday, July 17, 2020, Vice-Chancellor Beckles declared a resounding surpassing of this target by the Caribbean’s leading university, as Times Higher Education (THE) the globally recognised and most prestigious ranking agency for higher education, announced its 2020 rankings, and The UWI secured top spots on its three latest lists—Latin America University Rankings, Golden Age University Rankings, and Impact Rankings.

“Triple Firsts”, as coined by Vice-Chancellor Beckles, marks “The UWI’s breaking into the top 1% of universities in the Latin America and Caribbean region; the top 1% of Golden Age universities—i.e. the category of global universities between 50 to 80 years old; and retention of its number one position as the only Caribbean University to be ranked.”

“This remarkable achievement puts The UWI in an elite band,” Vice-Chancellor Beckles said. “We are elite, but not elitist.” He went on explain that, “the magnitude of this achievement is further contextualised within a landscape comprised of at least 209 Caribbean-based higher education institutions, an approximate 5,497 universities within Latin America and the Caribbean, and over 30,000 universities registered worldwide.”

In 2016, when Vice-Chancellor Beckles conceived and began rolling out the strategic plan together with The UWI’s leadership, he set an immediate objective to radically upgrade and globalise the regional University's reputation and enhance its international visibility and competitiveness. THE’s Latin America University Rankings and Golden Age University Rankings have both allowed for The UWI to be assessed by standardised indicators that judge research-intensive universities worldwide across all their core strategic missions of teaching, research, knowledge transfers and international outlook.

According to Pro Vice-Chancellor, Planning, Professor Densil Williams, who is credited with overseeing the implementation of The UWI’s strategic plan, “The UWI’s excellent performance in these rankings demonstrate the success of a series of deliberate strategic initiatives implemented under the framework of its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017-2022). These include but are not limited to global expansion through partnership with internationally recognised universities to establish centres and institutes across the globe; advancement in the entrepreneurial ethos of The UWI through greater linkages with the corporate sector; and production of impactful research to address societal problems in climate change, nutrition, economic development inter alia.”

Vice-Chancellor offered special commendation to the entire UWI community, recognising, “the tremendous work being done university-system wide to meet the Triple A targets, which has not only driven overall productivity, but has stirred an upsurge in engagement and brand reputation regionally, internationally and in scholastic advocacy on multiple issues of global significance.”

He concluded, “In spite of this year’s myriad challenges for the Caribbean community and the wider world, our University has had some high moments, signalling our strength and the success of our strategic plan and efforts. This is yet another of The UWI’s finest hours.”

The ranking criteria used by the UK-based agency provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons which are trusted and utilised by students, academics, university leaders, industry and even governments. The UWI’s continued appearances and progressions in these rankings affirm its prestige and leadership as a now familiar and consistent name in the global higher education arena.


Notes to the Editor

Access to the video recording of the Virtual event: Recognising Our Triple Firsts hosted on Friday, July 17, 2020 is available here.

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More about The UWI’s THE 2020 Rankings

In the THE’s Latin America University rankings The UWI placed at 18th, which is its highest position ever since debuting on this hemispheric list two years ago. In addition, The UWI was ranked in spot 92 in the Golden Age University Ranking, and among the top 200 universities in the Impact Rankings.

About the Times Higher Education’s Rankings Tables

·        Golden Age University Rankings: Rank the best universities established for more than 50 years, but less than 80 years.

·        Impact Rankings: Assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

·        Latin America Rankings: list the best universities in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

·        World University Rankings: provide the definitive list of the top universities globally.

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has 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 and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean 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; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

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. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018, 2019 and 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

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