Wednesday, April 17, 2024

UWI looks to cut costs, make money

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Cost-cutting, expanded use of information technology and attracting more high-paying foreign students are among the initiatives the University of the West Indies (UWI) is considering to increase student enrolment.

These were among the points made by new Chancellor Robert Bermudez, principals and Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles as the UWI University Council met at Cave Hill to review and plan its strategic plan for the coming business year yesterday.

Bermudez, who brings a corporate focus to the indebtedness of UWI, said the existing financial model of the state funding the university was “unsustainable, impractical and unhealthy” and suggested at a media briefing that reduction of costs and reform of the financial model was necessary.

The Chancellor told reporters the model has not been functioning and utilisation of technology presented “enormous opportunities”.

In delivering the Vice Chancellor’s report to the UWI Council, Sir Hilary said greater focus on innovation required the creation of technology parks “as places of convergence where entrepreneurs and academics seek to industrialise research findings”.

Cave Hill principal Professor Eudine Barriteau said construction of a software technology centre in Bridgetown was scheduled for completion towards the end of July and could see its first students enrolled for the ensuing academic year. She said cryptocurrency would be one area of software education.

Principal at the St Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland, noted the university had a history of early development of artificial intelligence (AI) but considered “the Internet of Things” to be an area of focus where students could set up home-based businesses. The Internet of Things involves the use of a network of physical devices to connect and exchange data in myriad services.

Sir Hilary said in his report: “The migration of academic research into the boardrooms of industrialists, producing the commercial convergence, should be established as a normal aspect of productive living.”

He told reporters UWI had reduced its dependence on government funding over the years from 85 per cent to 45 per cent, which he described as a “significant achievement” in cost reduction.

Utilisation of innovation and technology, he suggested, was a critical path towards regional economic growth. (HH)

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