The University of the West Indies (UWI) is expected to open its new campus in the heart of Bridgetown by the end of this year. And principal Sir Hilary Beckles said one of the main reasons for having that campus in the capital was to help drive economic activities there.
Boasting of the university’s contribution to the economy over the years, he said having the campus in The City would help with the revitalization efforts of the old town.
“We have been speaking about this for quite a while and you might have heard that Sagicor has made a decision to vest the grand old lady of Bridgetown, the old Sagicor building, to the university where we are going to open a City campus,” he announced today at the Private Sector Breakfast Forum at the 3Ws Oval.
“At the moment, about 5,000 people pour into this campus every [evening] between 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock and there will be more in the future. We are going to divert that traffic into Bridgetown . . . . The City needs to have 5,000 people in the evening. And, in so doing, all of the commercial enterprises around Bridgetown will be significantly impacted by that,” he surmised.
Sir Hilary said car parks, restaurants and cafés would benefit greatly.
The principal said lessons at the new campus would be done mainly thorough the use of technology.
“So what you will see at the end of this year is a very different dynamic and we will want to engage you,” he told a room of private sector players.
“We will want to partner with [the Private Sector Association] and look at how this traffic, this demand which we are going to relocate into the centre, will help bring some economic life and vitality. It is very important that we do this,” he added, saying that no economy could prosper without a good university.
Sir Hilary said the approximately $180 million that it takes to run the university was pumped back into the economy through various means.
“So we are a major driver of demand in Barbados and that has to be understood,” he added.