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Going Global 2014

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, May 26, 2014

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) was one of only two Caribbean tertiary level institutions represented at a higher education conference staged by the British Council in Miami in April. Some 1,000 delegates, presenters and exhibitors from 70 countries, including 500 heads of organisations and 16 education ministers, met to share best practices, network and strategize about the future of Higher Education.

In addition to universities from Europe, the United States, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia, there were representatives of international development agencies, associations of higher education administrators, companies in the fields of higher education marketing, recruitment, and research rankings. More than 3,400 people watched the proceedings online.  Nine pieces of research were launched at the meeting, ranging from the role that higher education can play in creating jobs in Africa to trends in South East Asia.  The conference proceedings will be published in a book to be edited by Mary Stiasny and Tim Gore of the University of London.

The UWI team, led by Vice-Chancellor E. Nigel Harris, sought to strengthen its positioning in the global landscape as an authority in small island state development and an ideal international partner; and raising awareness among participants representing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and other potential partners, of the geographic ideal location and spread of The UWI, its rich human capital and research capabilities.

 

This was done by targeting potential partners, based on The UWI’s pre-identified strategic projects, and highlighting its uniqueness and major strengths, notable programmes and accomplishments. Emphasis was also placed on the fact that The UWI is the leading voice in higher education in the Caribbean, a leader among the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of Universities, an ideal partner for Higher Education internationalisation programmes and a provider of a unique educational experience, as one of only two regional (multi-country) universities worldwide. The UWI’s location through its three physical campuses and accessibility via its virtual campus were also important selling points.

 

The theme of The UWI exhibition at the Conference was “An Engine of Regional Development”. It was well located in the centre of the exhibition hall and attracted many visitors who exhibited keen interest in the research capabilities of The UWI, its internationalisation strategy, its role as an agent of development in the Caribbean and its professional development offerings. Especially seeking information were university representatives from Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, who were keen to explore English language mobility opportunities, as well as the United Kingdom and several Asian countries. Brochures provided information about The UWI and UWI staff provided details of the capabilities of The UWI and programmes of collaboration.

 

Vice-Chancellor Harris was also a lead presenter in three well-attended sessions. The first was a workshop organised by the International Association of Universities to define the meaning of “Inclusive Internationalisation” as a means of ensuring a common approach by universities. UWI personnel were invited to this closed session and were able to contribute their perspectives.

 

His second presentation, together with two other Vice-Chancellors, attracted a considerable crowd. Entitled “Beyond the Rhetoric of Partnerships”, he discussed the criteria used by The UWI in determining its engagement with significant partners. He emphasised that The UWI served the Commonwealth Caribbean particularly through research, training and public service, that it was an important source of technical expertise for the public and private sectors, that it provided a gateway to the wider Caribbean region in terms of the impact of its work and that it engaged in the marketing of its expertise.   His third presentation was a follow on to the workshop, “Inclusive Internationalisation” and elicited much debate.

A recent major thrust within The UWI is the strengthening of links with HEIs in Latin America. The most significant information obtained from participation in the conference was the extensive demand in Brazil for English as a Second Language Programmes and the enthusiasm of Mexican and Colombian universities in working with other HEIs to provide double degrees and engaging in strategic collaborations.

The UWI’s participation at Going Global 2014 was facilitated by the support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency. This collaboration, Vice-Chancellor Harris said, was an excellent case study of how the private sector could support institutions such as The UWI.










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