While enrollment is still nearly half its peak levels five years ago, the University of the West Indies (UWI) at Cave Hill is reporting a steady increase in Barbadians studying there, campus principal Professor Eudine Barriteau revealed today.
The Government’s decision to restore the payment of undergraduate tuition fees for its citizens attending UWI is paying dividends for the campus, and halting a slide in enrollment triggered by the previous administration’s policy to end 50 years of tuition-free university education.
Noting that numbers are still 40 per cent lower than they were in 2014 when the policy was introduced, this year’s enrollment is up 12 per cent from last academic year, she said.
Barbadians account for 71 per cent of the student population at UWI Cave Hill.
Professor Barriteau, who addressed this morning’s open session proceedings of the UWI Cave Hill Campus Council meeting, said: “On June 24, the Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw articulated the policy in Parliament, reversing the earlier Government policy introduced in 2014. By the first semester of the new academic year, the total student population at the Cave Hill Campus was 5856 students, a 12.8 per cent increase on the previous year.”
Students who were forced to drop out of UWI because they could not afford tuition are said to be making up a large percentage of the enrollment for this academic year.
Practically crippled five years ago by lack of finance and declining enrollment.
Professor Barriteau declared, that the Cave Hill Campus now stands ready to reap the rewards of prudent management and revolutionised curriculum through several key partnerships with international counterparts.
She told the university council: “This morning our prospects are looking up and like our iconic blackbird, the campus is ready to soar. We are now poised to feel the sunshine of our prudent management and careful navigation of austerity. For the past four years I have reminded my colleagues and students that the UWI Cave Hill Campus is greater than and will not be defined by its combination of challenges that it had to confront and contain.”
She said that much of the campus’ resurgence culminated in the last two years by prioritising limited resources towards the better delivery of services, while broadening the scope of learning through linkages with higher tertiary institutions in China and Africa.
Pointing to additional reasons for the turnaround in fortunes, she continued: “It has been a productive and eventful year. In 2018 I said Cave Hill Campus has begun the dawn of our strategic planning. I spoke of mapping our recovery and being determined to achieve our goals even though we were navigating financial austerity, declining student enrollment, mounting government debt, aging plant and equipment and an IT [information technology] on the cusp of obsolescence.
“We survived because we place the required overdue capital upgrades on hold, concentrated on building a first-class quality environment by prudently deploying scarce resources to enhance the teaching and learning environment, services and programmes for our students.”