The University of the West Indies at Cave Hill has not outlived its usefulness nor has it outgrown its original purpose of helping the region and its citizens to achieve higher levels of individual and state prosperity.
That is the firm position of Principal of the Cave Hill campus Professor Eudine Barriteau, who also stressed that a country and its citizens can never be overeducated because “education is about more than [providing for] employment”.
Speaking ahead of the Inaugural Professorial Lecture by Professor Winston Moore Thursday night, the first in a series being held by the university to celebrate Barbados’ 50th anniversary of independence, the Principal spoke of the contribution of the university to the development of the region.
She said while, at times, it may appear there are more university graduates than can be adequately accommodated within the society, it is better for educational providers to be ahead of a nation’s development and growth than to lag behind.
“A university education produces a lifetime of benefits and reproduces citizens whose value systems redound to the improvement of the entire society,” Professor Barriteau stated.
She added: “The questions one may ask are “has the University kept faith with its mandate? In other words has it delivered on its commitment? Has it shaped and sharpened the minds of the majority of our decision makers today – whether in the corporate sector, politics, industry, government, NGOs or civil society? Has it provided higher education and training for the cadre of well-prepared employees on whose hard work and dedication this nation had advanced? Has the university helped Barbados to be recognized in the global environment?”
Professor Barriteau added: “If we can say with any settled conviction that the most bountiful natural resource with which Barbados has been endowed is its human resource, then the UWI has delivered and is worthy of the support of the public and private sectors that it seeks for its survival.”
The Principal said it was also critical for the university to maintain a close relationship with the private sector in order to match skills to the demands of the labour market.
“Employers expect higher education providers to deliver to them qualified and skilled employees who are capable of competing in a global environment. And universities need industry to provide internships for students and jobs for their graduates. This symbiotic relationship requires a deeper and closer partnership whereby industry has a moral obligation to help fund the source of its labour provision, especially in an environment where the state has carried this burden dutifully for so long. Deeper engagement between the private sector and the academy is something I look forward to,” the Principal said.