News Releases

Statement from the Vice-Chancellor : The UWI grieves with Guyana

For Release Upon Receipt - May 24, 2023


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Wednesday, May 24, 2023—The following statement is issued by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies in response to the tragic fire in Guyana on Sunday, May 20, 2023.  

The entire regional University of the West Indies grieves with the government and people of Guyana on the recent loss of 19 young lives in a fire at the Mahdia Secondary School, located in the Potaro-Siparuni region, west of the Essequibo River.  

It is a tragedy that pierces the hearts of people worldwide who, perhaps for the first time, are learning of the indigenous peoples who live, work, and love there.   

Even as we offer our sincerest condolences and wish the injured and other survivors strength and courage to endure in the weeks, months and years ahead, we at The UWI stand ready to provide practical support to the Government of Guyana as they treat with affected families and students who must deal with the immense physical and emotional trauma that they have so grievously suffered.    


About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region. 

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global 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 its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world. 

The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). In the latest World University Rankings 2022, released in September 2021, The UWI moved up an impressive 94 places from last year. In the current global field of some 30,000 universities and elite research institutes, The UWI stands among the top 1.5%. 

The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean, it is also in the top 20 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action. 

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