The Caribbean’s top university is in the top 5% in the world, but it’s not sitting on those laurels…
THE process which has enabled The University of the West Indies to break into the top five percent of universities in the world, according to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, has not stopped.
In fact, that process continues today with a determination to push The UWI into the top three percent — or higher — within the shortest possible time.
Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, made that clear at a press conference in Saint Lucia just after the Times Higher Education rankings came out.
“We are not going to stop there. We are going to rise higher and higher,” he said, referring to the 591th position The UWI achieved out of the 28,000 universities of more that were ranked globally.
“These rankings do not invite us to sit at a mirror and look at ourselves. It is to say to the peoples of the Caribbean that your university has not let you down,” he said.
The UWI was founded in 1948, making it 70 years this year.
Still a young university by world standards, the fact that it was able to break into the Times Higher Education top tier of universities speak volumes of it growth, which could only be described as phenomenal.
The UWI, in its 70 years, is also a phenomenal value for money institution for the people it was designed to serve.
As the number one university in the Caribbean and on top of its game, what The UWI went through to reach that status could simply be termed extraordinary, especially when considered that its birth occurred at a time when the region was still fully in colonial dispensation.
But as Sir Hilary noted The UWI, though born into a people suffering from generic impoverishment and material poverty, was blessed with that same populace having an intellectual capacity that was broad.
And so with a citizenry that were intellectually rich pursuing excellence was part of its DNA hence being placed in the top tier of world universities was simply a matter of time.
Helping push The UWI along the path of excellence were the pillars upon which it was built that it would be an ethical and excellent institution and one that was people oriented.
“We are not here for profit, to generate revenues for shareholders and investors. We are here to create capacity of the highest quality for the empowerment of our people who are building a Caribbean nation,” Beckles said.
But as impressive as The UWI has been within its 70 years of existence, that does not mean it did not have to fight against some strong headwinds, which Beckles said, had pushed it back a bit.
But he urged the Caribbean people not to lose faith in The UWI.
“This university (The UWI) is a source of inspiration in the darkest hour of Caribbean people. There will always be a bright light and that bright light is The University of the West Indies,” Beckles said.
The UWI, from its beginnings in Jamaica has now grown to become a global network with operational academic centers in Nigeria, China and New York and today has produce global heavyweights in every discipline.
It is connected to all 17 countries of the region with its open campuses sites with the site in Saint Lucia being the third largest behind Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica that have much larger populations.