Campus News


Revenue generating projects like cocoa manufacturing and the Global School of Medicine, intensified alumni outreach – Prof Antoine lays out UWI St Augustine’s enterprising agenda

By Dixie-Ann Belle

Cocoa and medical education will become very important to the future of UWI St Augustine. This is the hope of Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine who delivered her first Campus Principal’s presentation at the 2023 St Augustine Campus Council meeting on March 14.

Speaking at the annual business meeting of the campus, themed “A New Day”, Principal Antoine explained that the aim is to “build on our gains”, to become more self-sufficient and to fulfill the goal of embracing enterprise.

“In terms of revenue generation, innovation, entrepreneurship and so on, we intend to invest,” she said. “Spend the next year – this year in fact – investing in our future both tangibly and intangibly in some of the big projects”.

One of these is commercialising the chocolate factory that is being developed by The UWI Cocoa Research Centre, which Professor Antoine described as one of the prime and revolutionary drivers of the local cocoa industry.

The other major opportunity for revenue generation is the new Global School of Medicine at The UWI’s South Campus.

“We can leverage the considerable advantages we have already, the reputation of our medical faculty and our accreditation status,” declared the Campus Principal. She anticipates that the school will be a high-value asset worthy of investment.

Capitalising on UWI’s global reputation and visibility

In his remarks, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles described “the cocoa enterprise” as “a magnificent project primed and ready for the world” and a “source of revenue investment potential for the future”. He characterised the medical school as a national project and part of “that medical spine of research and student engagement from Mt Hope through to Couva all the way to Penal/Debe”.

“That spine,” he said, “will become the medical artery of the country.”

Sir Hilary congratulated The UWI community on its progress, affirming that the university’s global reputation and visibility has never been greater. As he highlighted The UWI’s achievements regionally, he singled out its contributions during the height of the pandemic as the university’s “finest hour”.

For several years now, The UWI has been developing and implementing revenue streams to make up for funding shortfalls caused by major reductions in government funding, increased competition in the tertiary education space, and the overall economic slowdown in the region. The need for new funding sources have only intensified following the severe economic consequences of the pandemic.

“Despite the fact that the St Augustine campus still offers the lowest costing degrees across all the campuses,” Professor Antoine observed, “we are still challenged in relation to our finances.”

Big projects and a multiplicity of smaller ones

Despite these concerns, Principal Belle-Antoine emphasised the benefits of UWI’s projects and highlighted the importance of the Alumni Giving Project going forward.

“We hope to encourage our hundreds of thousands of alumni to be more philanthropic and donate to us,” she said.

She also expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the various faculties and said they are all doing their part in attracting funding.

Sir Hilary noted, “University management in difficult circumstances will require a very scientific approach.”

He emphasised the importance of the government working with the university and said, “these big projects are going to be very significant structurally in the medium to long term, it is a multiplicity of smaller projects within the faculties that will also add significant value.”

He stated that The UWI is starting a new phase of development. “The tide is turning. It is like turning a cruise ship in a small harbour. It is not going to happen rapidly. It’s a slow but gradual and determined process.”

Echoing the meeting’s theme and the importance of reflection and being future focused as UWI celebrates its 75th anniversary, St Augustine Campus Council Chair, Sharon Christopher affirmed, “a new day has indeed come.”

Every year, The UWI’s five campuses host their Campus Council meetings to report on their finances, operations, and activities. A sixth University Council meeting is held by The UWI’s administrative centre at the Regional Headquarters in Jamaica.

Dixie-Ann Belle is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader.