University Marketing & Communications Office
The University of the West Indies
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Vice-Chancellor's Overview

Over the past 75 years, we have been steadfast, advancing the conversations, research, and pedagogy essential to steer the Caribbean forward. Despite all of the turbulence and the divisions and all of the challenges as colonial and post-colonial nations, we are hunkered down and finding ways to generate the intellectual energy and efficiency to move our people through time.

Our 75 years of invaluable service is indeed a major achievement. The 75th anniversary finds your university in a very good position indeed.

We are now constituted as five campuses with 10 global centres around the world. At 75, our reputation as a university has never been greater.

Our global visibility as a first class ranked university, as has never been greater, so at 75 years, we are ranked as the number one Caribbean University from a field of over 100. We rank among the top 1% of universities in Latin America and the Caribbean from a community of over 2000 universities. And we rank among the top 3% of the best universities in the world from over 32,000 universities. Such rankings affirm our readiness to serve our people and uphold our institutional stature.

It is also clear that we were tested in a way that we probably have never been tested before with the COVID pandemic and we came through that process with our head held high. The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly posed an existential threat to our university. Many universities worldwide struggled to adapt. They resorted to drastic measures such as closing campuses and suspending teaching indefinitely. These universities are now grappling with the daunting task of restoring their reputation.

The UWI, however, never succumbed to such drastic measures. As a management team, we hunkered down, and were resolved to get our students through this. We transitioned over 2,000 programmes to an online modality. We ensured our students graduated as planned. So we stayed the course. We took strong decisions. And history will undoubtedly recognize our University as one that managed the COVID-19 crisis with distinction. Our colleagues have every reason to be proud of this accomplishment.

Moreover, we continue to uphold the activist spirit of our University. By owning our unique brand profile as a university, we are activists in all critical areas impacting the Caribbean people. Whether it is related to Sustainable Development Goals, food security, climate change, public health issues, or any other pressing matter, we are at the forefront, providing solutions, advocating for change, and conducting extensive research. This is how we are building our University for the future, actively engaging with communities across diverse and challenging areas.

We perceive the management of a university as a strategic process, demanding the finest minds to devise visions and strategies. While we follow the principles of scientific management, we firmly recognize that we must be rooted in the societal expectations and expressions of our culture. So it’s a dialectical relationship between the strategic planning and understanding the evolution of culture.

At the core of our year in review stands the issue of ensuring the university’s financial sustainability. One frequently asked question is, “How are we maintaining the development of a world-class globally ranked university in a region where growth has remained stagnant for over 30 years?”

How have we been able to maintain and keep going with this university in a region that has serious financial challenges that have resulted, some from the colonial legacy, others from the global movements and a world economy that have been generally speaking negative, and all of these adverse circumstances beyond our control?

The explanation is straightforward. It is the solidarity between the people of the region, their governments and the university. This is an unbreakable bond. The UWI has enjoyed steadfast support from governments over the decades. The public has embraced this university, contributing to its growth and success, constantly engaging and funding it. Our people will protect and defend the institution.

Our Financial Report and University Bursar’s review demonstrate that the university secured US$60 million in grant funding for our research.

Research funding is not a primary government strategy.

The governments in the region in fact, invest primarily in an undergraduate experience, with strategic interventions in policy research. Therefore, the University has the responsibility to secure research support through its global partnerships. The US$60 million generated in the year in review indicates the university’s commitment to finding the necessary resources for research. This demonstrates our stakeholders’ trust and confidence in us, and our proactive stance towards securing funding.

At the moment, the governments of our region are funding 48% of the university’s operational costs which means of course that the student fees should have been in at just under 20%. The university itself has to find at least 30% of the resources necessary to continue its operations and we are in aggressive pursuit of that, which is why we call this Strategic Plan in this phase the Revenue Revolution.

Campus by campus, we are in pursuit of those resources necessary to supplement the government’s contributions so that this university can continue to thrive. The application of the university strategic plan is built on three pillars–Access, Alignment and Agility.

We are building a culture of self help. Exporting Caribbean knowledge to the world. We may have been tested. We have not disappointed the founders and stakeholders of this university. We have demonstrated the capacity to thrive from 75 to 100 and beyond.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles,
Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies