An estimated 1,500 students graduated from the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies today.
Of that number, 251 were at the postgraduate level.
Addressing this morning’s ceremony, Chancellor Sir George Alleyne said the number of undergraduate students represent a 12 per cent reduction from the 2014/15 academic year, with the majority in the Social Sciences, followed by Law.
Sir George also noted that this year 31 per cent of the graduating class is male, the highest it has been in the past five years.
He added that over 10,000 students have graduated from the Cave Hill campus over the past ten years, a testament to the institution’s credentialing function.
“I would contend that it has contributed to the material well-being of the country as well. Countries like Barbados without the physical resources with which some of our neighbours are endowed has to be firmly fixed in the knowledge economy.
“It is through generating information and the inculcation of that information into the knowledge of the young and not so young that universities make their greatest contribution to human welfare. The concept of knowledge being the key to prosperity is universal,” Sir George said.
He noted the island’s first Prime Minister Errol Barrow, who told one of the graduation ceremonies in 1968 that the university represents the best path to prosperity.
However Sir George said that UWI, like other universities, is now facing the paradox that although the importance of knowledge has been widely accepted, “we see shrinking contributions by governments which taken at its face value, would diminish the production of that knowledge”.
The Chancellor also defended the humanities, saying they are just as important as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
“There are still some who cast doubt on the value of the humanities, and I would encourage them to read the dissertation by Mr Cameron Tudor on the occasion of the opening of the College of Arts and Sciences in Barbados in 1963 – the precursor to our Campus.
“His theme was on a liberal education in a technocratic age. Of course it was laced with references to the classics in which he was well versed but his essential message was that the creation of a free and prosperous society depended on provision of education in the broad sense. The social structures would be stronger if the canons of a liberal education influenced what he described as the technocratic,” Sir George told the gathering.
Four Caribbean nationals were honoured by the university today: attorney-at-law Sir Trevor Carmichael, medical doctor Carol Lady Haynes and veteran journalist Tony Best were conferred with Honorary Degrees, while Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Dr Carissa Etienne was conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.