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University of the West Indies re-examines its regional role

The University of the West Indies (UWI) is looking to use more Caribbean material in its academic courses as well as to increase the movement of staff and students between the campuses.

This is one of the decisions taken at a meeting of UWI’s university council on 6 May 2011 in Basseterre, Saint Kitts.

The council, the primary governing body of the university, is led by chancellor George Alleyne, a professor of medicine. Born in Barbados, Alleyne is the first UWI graduate to hold the post of chancellor.

The meeting discussed the recommendations from two working groups mandated to review the university’s role in regional development and to strengthen its regional character.

They examined the apparent weakening of the regional character of the UWI and the decline in enrolment from the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries.

The UWI Jamaica campus website reports that the council undertook a comprehensive examination of its mandate as a catalyst for development in the English-speaking Caribbean region, based on recognition that the context has changed drastically since the university’s formation in 1948.

“Its role in strengthening the integration process had become even more critical now as governments continued to examine their commitment to regional integration. It was therefore felt that the UWI was challenged to help to perfect the union,” the website noted.

The meeting was attended by ministers of education, other government officials, academics and private sector representatives

According to the website, the meeting concluded that the UWI continued to make a significant impact on development, and investment in higher education embodied in the UWI was critical for the region to be competitive in the global environment.

The council underscored the need for ongoing support of the institution by contributing countries. It also agreed to continue its review of governance of the institution in ten-year intervals.