Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is warning that there can be no lasting economic or social development in Barbados if the university’s Cave Hill campus is not at the centre of Government’s policy-making pursuits.
Sir Hilary, a former principal of the campus, told a post Campus Council meeting press conference here that the tertiary institution must therefore be restored to its rightful place for the sake of this island’s economic well-being.
“There can be no economic growth in Barbados that is sustainable without the centrality of the Cave Hill campus and the University of the West Indies, and that the sluggishness in the Barbados economy is in part due to the marginalization and the diminishing of the Cave Hill campus,” he said.
“This is a plea therefore to return the Cave Hill campus to the centre stage where it can in fact impact this country and the sub-region positively,” Sir Hilary added.
The vice chancellor also applauded an initiative by Professor Eudene Barriteau, the current principal, which would allow students from Ghana to attend the Cave Hill campus to pursue studies in medicine.
He said with 30 per cent of the student population coming from outside Barbados, including the Eastern Caribbean, Panama and Venezuela, thus contributing to the economy, the Ghana initiative “is going to be another major foreign exchange earner”.
“The [principal’s] report shows that the only rational response in the search for economic growth, the only rational response in the search for social justice and equality is through the expansion, the modernization and the expansion of this campus . . . because no other institution, no other single institution in Barbados can impact this country as immediately and persistently as the Cave Hill campus as a result of its structure and its innovation,” he insisted.
Sir Hilary also noted that the principal had identified another revenue stream emerging from students arriving here over time from China and Japan to study at Cave Hill, saying Barriteau “has been in search of alternate student populations with a view to enhancing the financial viability of the institution”.
“I am particularly impressed with the conception of the knowledge and innovation triangle in which Bridgetown, Warrens and Cave Hill can now be mapped and identified as an economic zone,” the top regional university official stated.
A new campus scheduled to be completed by the end of July in the old Mutual building on Lower Broad Street, The City, is currently being converted into a science and technology park for innovation software engineering through a US$2.5 million funding from the Chinese.
Sir Hilary said the facility would take the young people of Barbados and the region into the digital age, and was “part of the principal’s conception of Cave Hill as a smart campus going into the 21st century”.