Rhianna Mc Kenzie
The University of the West Indies (UWI) is working toward expanding the regional Open Campus to the global online market. UWI Vice Chancellor Hilary Beckles said the campus set up the Office for UWI Global Online which has been doing “excellent work” in the past four years to drive research and policy planning into the expansion.
Beckles was speaking at the virtual launch of the UWI Open Campus STAT (Student Today, Alumni Tomorrow) week on Monday.
Beckles said although the covid19 pandemic had been unforgiving in many ways, it had also helped to move the education sector forward.
“This pandemic has allowed us to embrace the technology and the future. We have had to do in the last six to nine months what we have been trying to do in the past six to ten years and so in a short time, we were able to move speedily along into the future and we are not going back.”
He said phase one of the Office for UWI Global Online was to establish international centres all over the world by “practising internationalisation and globalisation” and partnering with universities around the world.
Beckles said as part of phase two, the team will begin to develop the online campus platform.
“We have done a policy paper and we are seeking development of it and we will move forward because we need, as you know, to secure the financial future of the university.”
He said one of the most effective strategies to do so is to look beyond the Caribbean for fee-paying students. He added, based on their research, thousands of students have a “thirst” for UWI programmes and content, not only within the region but around the world.
“We have students from over 100 countries in the UWI.”
Dr Luz Longworth, Principal of the Open Campus and Pro Vice Chancellor of Global Affairs, who is spear heading the UWI Global Online efforts, said the campus has been preparing to enter the global market for nearly four years.
“We are evolving in the right direction,” she said, adding the global thrust for online learning is an “enormous market, within the region of $2 billion, as the world is moving rapidly in what is called industry 4.0.”
She said it was always the dream of the Open Campus, since its inception in 2008, to be a conduit for the UWI to offer its excellence to the world. “It has taken some time, but the time has come…The world is our oyster.”
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