The University of the West Indies

Oriens Ex Occidente Lux: Light Rising from the West

The University of the West Indies was founded on October 1948 on a one square mile plateau in Mona, on the outskirts of Kingston Jamaica. It was built on a former wartime British camp which at one time served as a haven to Jewish refugees. Today the Mona campus encompasses 653 acres in a valley between two mountain ranges, with five faculties, 38 Departments and Research centers, including medical medical students from across the West Indies.

The UWI is the Caribbean’s premier university spanning over five campuses in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Five Islands, and the Open Campus with centers all over the region. It ranks among Latin America’s top 2% and at the top 4% of best universities in the world by The Times Higher Education rankings.  

The University currently serves about 50 thousand students from all over the world devoting to its mission “To advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world.” It is a unique institution federally funded by 17 Caribbean national communities and it offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate, and postgraduate degree options. This includes doctoral programs in a wide range of fields such as Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sports.       

As part of a robust globalization agenda, the UWI established partnering centers with universities in North and Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. These partnerships helped develop projects such as the State University of New York’s SUNY-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University, the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES), the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, and the University of Lagos UNILAG-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies.  With faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative agreements with 160 universities worldwide, the UWI is truly a university with a global vision.

As an example of its global influence, in January 2019, the International Association of Universities (IAU) recognized the UWI for its role in research and global climate change and its actions in mobilizing higher education and research institutions to work for sustainable development. That same year, IAU designated the UWI as the lead institution for a Global University Consortium on SDG 13: Climate Action.  Among the many innovations of UWI, one of special importance is the cardiac simulator, which uses a pig’s heart and stands out for its contribution to cardiac surgery education allowing students to practice heart surgery procedures without risking human beings. The simulator was adopted by many US teaching institutions in their cardio training programs; among some of them are Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, and Stanford University.

The University of the West Indies has also trained many of the region’s leaders in government, science, technology, and innovation.  It proudly counts two Nobel Prize Laureates among its alumni: Sir Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, and Sir Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979.

Related Articles