Members of the highest governing body and decision-making authority of The University of the West Indies, the University Council, met on Friday, April 29 for its annual review and deliberation of the regional University’s business affairs.
The University Council Meeting is a longstanding governance proceeding during which appointments, the management of the finances, and all major business matters are decided. The public, open session of the meeting was broadcast live via UWItv. University Registrar, Dr. Maurice D. Smith welcomed attendees and introduced Chancellor, Robert Bermudez, who delivered remarks as Chairman of Council. The central feature of the proceedings was a detailed account of The UWI’s operations throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, including highlights of key achievements for the period, and projections for The UWI’s 2022-2027 strategic cycle delivered by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.
During his presentation, themed, A Global Disruptor, Vice-Chancellor Beckles highlighted how The UWI successfully maintained its core business operations amid the social and economic challenges of the pandemic and outlined a wide range of crucial initiatives undertaken by the University in its public service to the Caribbean region. More importantly, he described in detail how the University is strategically embracing a new financial culture anchored by cost-saving measures, bankable entrepreneurial projects, backing from the grant market and international funders, as well as a business model for a new global online campus. He noted significantly that having robustly managed its budgets over the past few years towards reducing government funding, government contributions to The UWI currently stand at 48%, although the ideal would be 50%.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles described The UWI as a “global disruptor, surging in a world of disruption in respect of higher education.” He emphasised, “The UWI is not simply a reactor to these disruptions and transformation,” but had “provided vanguard leadership to the world in terms of the disruptions necessary to fundamentally change access and quality in higher education.”
In response to the Vice-Chancellor’s presentation, Chancellor Bermudez noted that he continues to be impressed by The UWI’s “enormous scope and range”. He added, “In all those areas, there are opportunities; opportunities in some cases for efficiency, and some cases for additional activity”. Chancellor Bermudez underscored his confidence that the University has the people and the will to continue building its global brand and manage its finances in the economic environment we live in, plagued by rising costs and inflation.