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No decline in commitment to regional students, UWI promises

Sir Hilary Beckles (File photo)

Article source: Jamaica Observer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies has given the assurance that the current drive to attract more international students will not impact its commitment to students from Barbados and the Caribbean.

With a decline in the student population from 9,000 before the introduction of tuition fees for locals, to 6,065 at present, Cave Hill campus is keen to increase its enrolment figures as part of an overall strategy to boost its finances.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles told a news conference on Friday following the campus’ council meeting that this is the first stage of a much broader programme of the university.

Principal Eudine Barriteau, meanwhile, noted that the campus has the capacity to accommodate up to 10,000 students.

“And I want everyone to understand quite clearly that our core mission is educating Barbadian and Caribbean students. So we’re attracting international students, but they become the topping up. We’re not going to move from our core mission,” Barriteau told reporters.

The campus is currently targeting the Central American countries of Costa Rica, and Panama, and their neighbours to the south, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.

“We are engaged in conversations with colleagues in Brazil. We have a strong Brazil project on which we are working, and beyond the hemisphere we are looking also at Asia, we’re looking at Africa.

“And so what we are trying to do in UWI on all of our campuses, and with Cave Hill taking the lead in this regard, we are seeking to make our programmes, our skills our capacities available on a global basis,” Sir Hilary stated.

As it relates to funding for the university, he said the tertiary institution is working with regional governments “to turn the conversation around where the university is not seen as a site for public expenditure, but a site that generates foreign exchange and generates revenue”.

According to Sir Hilary, a recent economic impact assessment of the Cave Hill campus conducted by economics professor Dr Winston Moore showed that as a business enterprise, Cave Hill generates as much foreign exchange on an annual basis as many other sectors in the economy.

“The Moore report showed that the Cave Hill campus is a net earner of foreign exchange and contributes about 2.5 per cent to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of this country,” he noted.

Sir Hilary announced that the university is also working towards a model where each of the three campuses will see increased enrolment from regional students, as according to him, only Cave Hill and the Open Campus are the ones with significant numbers from the region.

“We are working towards a model where 60 per cent of the students on each campus would be drawn from that country because the budget is designed that way. Maybe 30 per cent of those students on each campus are from the wider Caribbean world, so that brings each campus into a Caribbean experience and 10 per cent of students from beyond the wider Caribbean,” he said, noting that regional and international students are critical to the university’s income generation.