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OECS Authority discusses fourth UWI campus in Antigua and Barbuda


Having a campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in the OECS would afford citizens more affordable access to tertiary education in disciplines that will help to drive the economy.

Last year, an idea was proposed that there be a fourth campus of the UWI, which would be built in Antigua and Barbuda. And the idea was a subject of discussion at the 66th meeting of the OECS Authority, which was held here on Tuesday at Beachcombers Hotel.

Timothy Harris, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, said that the coming of a fourth campus in an OECS territory would be beneficial in many ways to the region.

“With the coming of the residential campus in Antigua, we are looking to have better benefits in terms of the affordability and accessibility to our students. Antigua for example is 15 minutes travel from St Kitts and you know, you can easily relate to that in terms of time, in terms of distance,” Harris said in response to a question at a press conference.

The Kittitian prime minister said that having the campus in an OECS territory also provides an opportunity for more influence in the programmes that are offered.

He believes that this will in turn result in “a reservoir of talent” that can be called upon in the many important areas related to development of the region and its particular needs.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is the current chairman of the OECS Authority, said the OECS is not interested in “any watered down university”.

“We want in addition to matters which connect to our economy currently like for instance, tourism and all the various dimensions of it, fishing is a big area for us but also some particularly high end areas of agriculture, but cutting edge technology, artificial intelligence, advanced science and technology, we need a lot of people for instance to be quantity surveyors, we need people, more civil engineers, we need land surveyors,” he said.

The chairman noted that these disciplines were being offered at the University of Technology in Jamaica and at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

And while the UWI does not have to duplicate what is being done, he said that the areas offered at the new campus should be ones that drive the economy of the smaller islands.

Gonsalves said that the vice chancellor of the UWI, Sir Hilary Beckles made a presentation at the meeting, concerning the relationship between UWI and the OECS countries’ community colleges and the Open campus.

In relation to the fourth campus, Gonsalves said that work is ongoing and it is expected that the designated task force will report on the various aspects including programmes, facilities, governance arrangements and financing by April 2019.