Latin American, Caribbean universities commit to regionalisation

Latin American, Caribbean universities commit to regionalisation

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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Latin American and Caribbean universities are working to strengthen bonds between them and have reaffirmed their commitment to regionalisation.

Meeting at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Mona on February 7, 2020, representatives of the Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL), agreed to work collaboratively “to influence governance policies in the region” so as to ensure the highest quality of education is available to as many persons as possible”.

To that end, the UWI, under its mandate as alternate vice-president for the Caribbean region of UDUAL, tabled a proposal for the acronym to be amended to include the Caribbean. The proposal was tabled by Ambassador Gillian Bristol, director, Latin American-Caribbean Centre at the UWI Regional Headquarters. Vice-rector of the University of Havana Dr Mayda Goite, as vice-president for the Caribbean region, endorsed the proposal, calling for inclusion within UDUAL.

The proposal was unanimously supported by the executive council members as a demonstration of the importance attributed by UDUAL to Caribbean higher education institutions and systems and their participation as an integral pillar of the union.

The 96th meeting of the executive council of UDUAL was hosted by Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The UWI and president of Universities Caribbean who jointly chaired the meeting with Dr Dolly Montoya, president of UDUAL and rector of the National University of Colombia.

The meeting heard reports from various members about the current situation of higher education in the regions of UDUAL – Caribbean, Central America, Southern Cone, and Mexico. They noted difficulties faced by the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean which hinder development and challenge universities to participate in research and innovative academic curricula that address poverty, crime, climate change, unemployment and illiteracy.

Several universities also called attention to challenges to their autonomy and financial constraints as issues which hamper their independence and capacity. Members agreed that unification under UDUAL was key to formulating collaborative research and other projects to address these concerns.

Urging collaboration and a sharing of experiences and solutions, Sir Hilary said, “We must build a programme for the future around the conversations that bind us together.” Citing climate change, public health, migration, and inequality as some of those shared challenges, he added: “there are a dozen or more conversations that we all share that can become a major manifesto for future development.”

“We need a revolution in access to higher education. We need to ensure ample numbers of skilled persons at every level and an alignment of everything required to achieve growth and social transformation,” he declared. “We have to be more agile to find opportunities for collaboration to make our research more available to industry, transform the relevance of our universities for people today.”

Ten heads of universities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean participated in the meeting. Countries represented were: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Uruguay.

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