Saturday 15 August, 2020

UWI’s first ‘for-profit initiative’ likely to come this summer

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles at the University of the West Indies

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles at the University of the West Indies

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is seeking to roll out the first in a series of initiatives aimed at generating profit.

The first venture is likely to be rolled out during the summer, with others coming on stream for 2021/2022, the UWI said in a statement.

These for-profit initiatives will be developed and managed by UWI-owned companies, operated by private sector managers, the university said.

The UWI is seeking sustainable revenue streams from non-government sources to sustain its growth and reputation as the number one university in the Caribbean, ranked among the top four per cent of the world’s best. 

Currently, the governments of the region contribute 48 per cent of The UWI’s total operational budget, down from 75 per cent just 25 years ago, the university said. 

“Its future growth and modernisation will require access to the private investment option,” according to Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

Regional finance leaders in the private sector recently went into retreat with the leadership of The UWI to discuss how best to bring the institution to market with investment instruments. 

The meeting, which was held at its Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, was a historic one for The UWI.

Projects discussed included real estate housing schemes; tourism teaching and research facilities; an international for-profit medical school for global students; a hotel and conferencing complex; sports stadia; a sport injury and rehabilitation centre; science and technology spin-offs, and data management corporate services. 

The group received a UWI strategy presentation from the Vice-Chancellor, and a private sector investment road map into The UWI from its Pro Vice-Chancellor for Industry-Academic Partnerships, Professor Denzil Williams. 

Also, The UWI’s five Campus principals presented a roster of projects being prepared for private investments using bonds and Initial Public Offering (IPO) options.

A dedicated UWI Alumni bond is being considered. 

The university is also assessing the merits of debt and equity financing as well as short-term capital injection and long-term sustainability options.

“A select strategy committee, guided by The UWI’s Schools of Business, will begin the task of preparing the institution for investment readiness and carving the path to the private market,” Vice-Chancellor Beckles concluded.

For over 70 years The UWI has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world.

The university has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus.

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