News Releases

First-Generation University students to receive more support

For Release Upon Receipt - November 10, 2023

St. Augustine


  First One:  With raised fingers representing their important milestone as the First Generation in their family to attend university, Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine [centre] and Dr. Deirdre Charles [L], Director Division of Student Services & Development join the First. Gen students for a photo opportunity at the launch event.

St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. November 10, 2023- In a move that honours the spirit of innovation and determination, The University of The West Indies (The UWI) successfully launched its 'First Gen. STAR' (Successful Transition & Academic Readiness) initiative, a programme dedicated to uplifting students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education. Adopting a practice that has long been revered by universities and colleges across the globe, The UWI’s Division of Student Services & Development (DSSD) made history when the 'First-Generation Student Recognition Ceremony & Programme Launch, was held on November 09, 2023, at the University Inn & Conference Centre.

 Years in planning, the 'First Gen. STAR' initiative emerged from the recognition of the distinctive challenges these students encounter, including navigating the academic landscape and the often-limited support from home and their family as a result of people not being able to relate to what the academic journey entails. Therefore, in response to a data gathering that identified the students' needs, The UWI has developed a suite of programmes that are designed to ensure their successful transition and academic readiness.

 Speaking of change, the students identified areas of need including mentorship, pre-orientation support, financial aid, counselling services and mental health support, social and peer-to-peer engagement and parent/family-specific outreach. In extolling the benefits of the programme’s structure, Dr. Deirdre Charles, Director of DSSD, celebrated the fact that the components of the programme were developed from the ground up, by the First Gen. students themselves. Dr. Charles indicated that, “it’s important for them to tell us what it is they need and based on that, we cater to that need and of course in time, participation will increase, satisfaction will increase and of course, their prosperity and success will definitely increase.”

 The journey for our first-gen students has been one of bravery and determination as they are not just making strides for themselves; they are paving the way for their families and communities. “As they forge this new path, it is our joy and our duty to support them every step of the way," added Dr. Charles of the DSSD.



Pin up, Chin-up: Dr Acolla Lewis- Cameron Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences pins a First. Gen student at the recognition and programme launch event.


Leaving your mark: First Gen students sign the commemorative board at the First. Gen student recognition and programme launch event, leaving their names and well wishes for fellow students.

 About The University of the West Indies

 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 for the past 75 years.

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 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). 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 in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 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.

2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.


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