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Sunday, May 21, 2006 

Sunday May 21, 2006


"How can UWI help us further?" This was the theme of the two-day consultations held between top officials of the University of the West Indies and stakeholder groups from St. Kitts and Nevis. Stakeholder groups consisted of students, Education Officials, Employers and Industry Providers and non Governmental organizations.

Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Nigel Harris, in his Welcome Remarks, informed the gathering that these country meetings arose out of a serious concern that UWI was not adequately serving the needs especially of the non-campus territories and statistics confirmed that the rate of enrollment among these islands was far less than the enrollment rate of campus territories.

° UWI was going about the upgrading of their offerings in a very thorough way by
first meeting with the people, the stakeholders who mattered, and assessing
their needs and requests. St. Kitts was already the tenth island in
which they performed these country consultations. The Vice Chancellor
encouraged attendees to be as interactive as possible. Among other things,
he opined that "Public and Private Sector should be able to draw on the
broad expertise of the UWI."

After remarks by the Minster of Education and Deputy Prime Minister, Sam Condor, position statements were given on Human Resource Development needs and institutional priorities. Presenters were Vice Chancellor Nigel Harris, PS Education, St. Kitts, PS Education Nevis, Chair, CFB College Transition Management Team and President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The discussions were rich and revealing. Of special interest and concern were - the "psychic loss" the Vice Chancellor confessed to feeling when studying and working among non Caribbean people;- the fact that Nevis students were failing to take up available scholarships because they were tenable at UWI; - the slow pace at which UWI responded to applications as opposed to the North American Universities; - the extremely poor state of college libraries; - the brain drain situation and the grave concern that there would not be enough trained people in the country to fill the jobs that would come on stream if the envisaged project materialized.

Also revealing were the findings of the Tertiary Level Institute Unit. Officials of this Dept of UWI held discussions with selected stakeholder groups the day before and reported on their findings. The groups prioritized these five areas for attention and assistance:
° Hospitality/Tourism
° ICT/Technology
° Criminology
° Education/Teachers

Surprisingly absent from this list were requests for assistance in Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Culture.

Further discussions were due to take place throughout the day and it was expected that an action plan would be drawn up with the help of the various groups. There was overall consensus that UWI did need to play a greater role and ought to become the University of first choice for Caribbean students in both campus and non-campus territories. This "was not happening hence UWI was eager to have "all hands on deck as it positioned itself to play a greater role in the development of the new Caribbean.

© 2003 Pam Democrat. All rights Reserved

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