Time for UWI linkages to meet the demands of our times

Dennis A

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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In an article titled 'UWI focused on output rather than quality output – PSOJ president' The Gleaner newspaper of Saturday, September 8, 2018 reported the following: “President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell has expressed his disappointment with The University of the West Indies (UWI) charging that the institution has failed to build and elevate the business class through research and development.

“ 'I am disappointed that The UWI is not providing the data-control techniques, the data-management techniques, and the data-manipulation and analysis techniques that our business people so sadly lack, and our private sector is held back because we do not have, to a great extent, that talent internally,' said Mitchell in his keynote address to the Rotary Club of New Kingston breakfast meeting at the Altamont Court Hotel, St Andrew, yesterday.”

I have to agree with Mitchell.

The fairly glaring shortcomings that he has fingered extend well beyond the fields of study which he specified at The UWI. Perhaps one solution is to emulate what South Korea, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, etc, have managed to do. They have encouraged and facilitated their best universities to forge close structural/organic linkages with some premier academic institutions at the heart of robust economies in the UK, US, Holland, Germany, and Japan.

Consider Singapore: In 2009, the National University of Singapore (NUS) President Tan Chorh Chuan first floated the concept of a joint liberal arts college with Yale at the World Economic Forum in Davos during a private meeting with Richard Levin, president of Yale. Within 18 months, Yale-NUS was neatly set up as a college within NUS. Upon graduation, 93.3 per cent of the 2017 inaugural class of Yale-NUS were already placed in jobs offered by industry, commerce, consulting, engineering, agricultural development, research, academia, banking, etc. Of course, behind all this was the visionary strategising spirit of the late Lee Kuan Yew.

Closer home, A-QuEST, our college advising group, has sought to place some of our nation's brightest young leaders in such places (Read: Hampton's Alexia Davidson first J'can student accepted to prestigious Yale-NUS, Jamaica Observer, June 6, 2015.)

One of my dreams is for our own The UWI, forged in a link with Princeton University, to form an academically super-rigorous college named “Princeton-UWI” to be located on the gorgeous campus of College of the Arts, Science and Education (CASE) near peaceful Port Antonio in Portland, Jamaica.

In a brief discussion of this concept with my good friend Ambassador Byron Blake he made the further practical observation that, “There was a time when businesses provided internships and holiday opportunities for students who, by graduation, had a year or more supervised real experience. Good academic training has to be a collaboration. Those with the capacity and the need cannot just sit on the side.”

Tru, tru wud!

I think that such alliances are a way to efficiently go about retooling and tailoring the offerings of our local tertiary institutions to meet the pressing, cutting-edge human resources demands of our times.

What do The UWI's Sir Hilary Beckles, CASE's Dr Derrick Deslandes, and the PSOJ's membership think of this?

Dennis A Minott, PhD, is a tutor at A-QuEST. Send comments to the Observer or

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