Open Campus Adds Value To UWI’s Infrastructure

uwi-speakkTHE Open Campus, the newest campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) was formally launched in Antigua & Barbuda on July 4 at the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting held in 2008.

The Open Campus is an amalgamation of the previous Office of the Board for Non-Campus Countries and Distance Education (BNNCDE), the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), the UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC), and the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU).

Based on the idea that the high-quality university education, research and services available at the UWI should be open and available to all people who wish to reach their full potential inside the Caribbean region, the Open Campus offers multi-mode teaching and learning services through over 40 virtual and physical site locations across the Caribbean region. This allows the Open Campus to democratise and broaden access to a UWI education without surrendering quality assurance or benchmarked standards.

As noted in a recent address by Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal EudineBarrriteau, “the Open Campus has several unique features marking it as different, but complementary to The UWI’s residential campuses. The Open Campus Country sites represent the face of the UWI in the majority of Caribbean countries and in this capacity serve as diplomatic missions of The UWI, assisting residential campuses in their national outreach.” They also provide an important public education service through public lectures and academic conferences.

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While “students from across the Caribbean and internationally travel to the residential campuses to gain a UWI education and experience, the Open Campus travels across bandwidths, across a variety of technological platforms, employing blended learning and face to face modalities, to deliver a UWI education and experience to every corner of the Caribbean within the institutionally accredited quality assurance standards of The UWI.”

Together, the four campuses offer a formidable educational infrastructure in the Commonwealth Caribbean:
Now in its sixth year of operation, the UWI Open Campus has made some major strides. Its accreditation in July 2013, the award of nearly CDN $20million by the Canada Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development (DFATD) formerly CIDA, gifts of land by the Grenadian and Trinidadian governments and guaranteed loans from the Caribbean Development Bank to upgrade Open Campus Sites in Saint Lucia, St Vincent and Trinidad, are all evidence of the vast possibilities of this new campus.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
With the support of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) project of Strengthening Distance Education in the Caribbean (SDEC), The UWI Open Campus launched its revolutionary Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) initiative at the beginning of the University’s 2014/2015 academic year. This programme is designed for underserved groups from the Caribbean region who now have an opportunity for their relevant experiential learning to be assessed for academic credit.

Single Virtual University Space (SVUS)
To complement the on-line programmes, a Single University Space has been launched, an endeavour which among other things now enables video-streaming of lectures so that students in any part of the region can interact in real time with their teachers located anywhere in the region or beyond.

More recently, The Open Campus Saint Lucia was the proud recipient of the “Outstanding Contribution to Education by an Organisation Award” at the 2015 National Awards of Excellence ceremony held at the National Cultural Centre in Saint Lucia on Tuesday, 20th January 2015. The award was in recognition of the sterling contribution made by The UWI Open Campus in making affordable and first class tertiary level education widely accessible to Saint Lucians, as well as for its outstanding responsiveness in times of national crisis.

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