Despite being rated among the top five per cent of the world’s universities, the University of the West Indies might have risen even higher were it not for a “decade of austerity”, UWI’s Cave Hill principal has suggested.
Highlighting the recent Times Higher Education survey which placed the UWI at 591 out of 1,258 top universities globally, or in the top five per cent of over 25,000 recognized universities worldwide, Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Eudine Barriteau said UWI Cave Hill was continuously adding to “the prestige of Barbados and the region”.
But “imagine where we would be placed if we had the resources to pursue the new paths for educational transformation”, she told an economic symposium on Monday.
Planned development suffered over the last decade because of “sacrifices” that UWI has made as a result of the economic challenges facing Barbados and the region, she said.
“We are well aware that getting to that promised land of economic recovery will call for sacrifice. Some say significant sacrifice. In Cave Hill’s case we have already been on that altar or perhaps we are still crossing the desert looking forward to our promise land,” Barriteau declared to the gathering at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
“The past decade has been a decade of austerity for the Cave Hill Campus, while we have maintained the quality of our degree programmes and the research output, as evident in satisfying all professional and institutional accreditation requirements. We have not been able to undertake the necessary capital work upgrades. We have not been able to initiate the required infrastructural renewal in critical areas befitting a global 21st century university, rooted… in, and dedicated to, revitalizing Barbados’ and Caribbean development,” said the university principal.
Barriteau said she was aware that “Government has proposed forgiving itself of a significant portion of the debt that it owes to the university”.
But she said that while the university has indicated its acceptance of the Government’s debt restructuring terms, “we have also indicated that we will engage in further discussions on this matter”.
The campus principal wants to see Barbados and the rest of the region achieve economic strategies to transform the Caribbean economies, and become more resilient against external shocks.
“We have to ensure that this much-talked-about economic transformation becomes more of a reality and less of a satisfying academic circular discussion,” she said.
“Our economic recovery must be firmly rooted in the yet untapped potential of the green economy, the nascent blue economy and the emerging orange economy; the latter, which offers much hope to the established and budding creative talent in our midst,” she said, suggesting that artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies and other technology platforms also be used to transform regional economies.