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Give UWI Mona a boost for success, Beckles urges Gov’t, private sector

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2023 | 1:07 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer

Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), is seeking the assistance of the Government and private sector players in redeveloping the 75-year old Mona campus.

He was addressing the Annual Campus Council Meeting with the theme: “Rebuilding Foundations for the Post-COVID Era”, where he commented on the annual report for academic year 2020/2021.

The meeting, which was broadcast live on UWItv, outlined projections for The UWI’s 2022–2027 strategic plan and highlighted a number of successes over the period.

Beckles said that in his last conversation with the Government, he had put forward this request. The institution celebrates its 75th anniversary this year under the theme “Rooted, Ready, Rising.” To begin the celebration, a health and wellness day event dubbed ‘Mona Moves,’ will be held in March at a date to be announced.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen declared January 7, 2023 as ‘UWI Day’ in honour of the institution’s 75th anniversary.

“The campus is now 75 years and it needs a facelift. The grounds, the facilities, the laboratories, the libraries, the teaching infrastructure and the research facilities it needs a facelift because years and years of constraints, of (budget) cuts and so on have left the infrastructure for teaching and learning and research in a state that we cannot say is ideal,” Beckles said.

He continued that the Mona campus had served the Jamaican people and those of the region well and has been the heart of the UWI university system.

The UWI, Mona, the first campus of the UWI university system, was founded in October 1948 with 33 undergraduate medical students from across the Caribbean and was selected as a location due to the simple but functional accommodation it offered which was constructed during World War II (1939– 1945) when the site was a war camp.

The current enrolment at the Mona campus stands at 16,222 students. In the academic year 2021-2022 enrolment stood at 19, 052 students.

“Whatever the State and the private sector can provide to give Mona a boost for success at 75 years and to launch it towards this itinerary, you know, I think Mona deserves this [because] it has contributed enormously to the country and region and I think is entirely deserving of a significant capital injection to enhance its future performances,” he said.

During his earlier remarks, Beckles stated that “the university’s reputation today is at its strongest ever,” having reached a significant moment in its standard and quality evolution.

In September 2021, The UWI moved up in ranking to enter into the top 1.5 per cent of first-class universities and research institutions, as depicted by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.