An abiding factor which ensures that the Faculty of Medical Science at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus remains at the top among peer tertiary divisions is its insistence on high standards in a challenging teaching environment.
And this Barbados based faculty has been sticking to its quality benchmarks despite the demands of those seeking to enter its hallowed halls, and the pressure of worsened economic circumstances.
The high standard of the Cave Hill Faculty of Medical Science (FMS) was noted by Dean Emeritus of that Cave Hill division, Sir Henry Fraser, who last night expressed concern that it may buckle under pressure and soften its stance on certain conditions for quality.
Sir Henry, who presided over the opening of the Barbados FMS in 2008 noted, “We started the new faculty and the numbers per class are restricted to 70 to ensure quality”, but he added that maintenance of this relatively low number of students is a “challenge that bothers me”.
Delivering a UWI 70th Anniversary Lecture titled, “UWI and Health Care in the Caribbean – Successes, Problems and Opportunities,” the retired Dean explained that his bother is because of “the response to consumer demand and the economic crisis… had a minor impact on us in Barbados but it had a major impact in Jamaica”.
“The numbers in Jamaica and Trinidad [FMS] reached 250 with some classes after the year 2000,” he said, pointing out that with “those very large numbers, the personal connection between students and staff is often lost, and it becomes a little bit of a cattle market”.
Sir Henry’s presentation in the FMS lecture theatre bearing his name was attended by a wide cross section of Barbadians and visitors including colleagues in the medical field.
Among them was St Kitts and Nevis former prime minister and current Leader of the Opposition, Dr Denzil Douglas who graduated from Cave Hill with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1977 before moving on to acquire a medical degree at the Mona Campus, Jamaica.
Responding to the Dean Emeritus’ concern and that of a questioner in the audience following Sir Henry’s presentation, Dean of the Faculty, Dr Peter Adams, conceded that there is good reason to be sceptical. However, he said the Cave Hill campus is committed to be fully accredited both here and overseas.
He noted that while the regional university is celebrating 70 years of existence, the Cave Hill FMS has only ten years under its belt as a full faculty and it has raced to the top.
“The FMS at Cave Hill has the best and brightest from around the Caribbean applying for a place in the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine) programme,” he said, adding that the Barbadians in this non-Barbadian dominated faculty are also among the best.
“This year, we accepted four Barbados scholarship winners and five exhibition winners.”
Achievements of the Cave Hill FMS are symbolic of the performance of the university as a whole across the region because at 70 years young, UWI has already catapulted itself to a place among the best ranked tertiary educators in the world.
“Of note, the authoritative Times Higher Education University Rankings place UWI in the top 2.5 per cent of universities in the world. And the university has its sights on climbing higher up the rankings,” he said.