Career & Education

Beckles elected president of Universities Caribbean

Sunday, November 25, 2018

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A major development in the transformation of the higher education sector in the Caribbean took place in the Dominican Republic last week, from November 12-13, 2018.

Academic leaders from CARICOM, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Colombia, the French and Dutch-speaking Antilles — who comprised the independent, voluntary organisation known as the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA) — voted to abolish the traditional association in existence since 1967, and created in its place a new organisation, Universities Caribbean.

Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies Professor Sir Hilary Beckles was elected president, with the executive committee comprising leaders of universities in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the French Antilles, and the Dutch Antilles.

Universities Caribbean's general mandate is to revitalise, energise, and effectively integrate the regional university sector and to enhance its quality and regional impact. The approved strategic plan of the new entity is built upon three pillars: to improve the reputation of the sector; to enhance the resilience of the member universities; and to increase the revenue position of members and the sector.

Universities Caribbean is guided by the organising principle of “one Caribbean solution”, and has approved key projects for implementation. Among them are the promotion of student mobility across the region, and the creation of joint research projects around important regional challenges.

Further, the university leaders pledged to create a “one Caribbean university” system to find answers to some of the region's most pressing problems, including climate-smart actions, Blue Economy innovation, poverty, and securi

President Beckles informed the assembly that Universities Caribbean will bring the region in line with other parts of the hemisphere and the world where similar regional university organisations exist to support and direct the effective planning and networking of higher education programmes and research. He assured colleagues that “Universities Caribbean will be the region's voice in the areas of quality, globalisation, resilience, and financial sustainability”.

Officials from UNESCO and other UN development agencies, who were invited as strategic partners, welcomed the launch of the association and pledged commitment to promoting its objectives of greater integration and partnership among the region's universities.

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