CDB backs UWI as Caribbean digital transformation epicentre

“THE University of the West Indies (The UWI) must become, and will become, the digital transformation epicentre of the Caribbean. That is where we’re going.”

This declaration from vice-chancellor of The UWI Professor Sir Hilary Beckles was made during the project launch ceremony for The UWI-CDB digital transformation programme held on February 6 at the university’s Regional Headquarters in Jamaica.

The UWI is advancing its digital transformation as part of Phase II of its Triple A Strategic Plan: The Revenue Revolution, which focuses on the conversion of the university’s reputational value into much-needed revenue through the strategic use of digital technologies.

Beckles explained that the programme, led by Professor of Digital Transformation, Policy, and Governance Lloyd Waller, is more than digital technologies.

“Rather it is the impact that the mobilisation of those technologies will have on The UWI’s core business—teaching, learning, research, efficient administration and efficiency that facilitates doing more at a lower cost, generating savings in the process, also generating revenue,” he said.

Continuing its longstanding relationship with the university, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has come on board as the official partner for The UWI’s digital transformation programme. Speaking at the launch ceremony, vice-president of operations at the CDB Isaac Solomon noted that through its support of the programme, the bank is keen to strengthen decades of mutually beneficial collaboration with The UWI as it seeks to maintain a leadership role in higher education for the benefit of the region.

“For us at CDB, advancing the digital transformation of The UWI is critical for operational effectiveness, increased access to programmes, expansion of services, and continued competitiveness in the existing COVID-19 period and beyond,” said Solomon.

He highlighted several factors which, he stated, underscored the necessity and relevance of the digital transformation project.

“Increasing enrolment across The UWI also requires optimising online learning opportunities, as the shift to digital education delivery leverages technology to reduce the economic cost of tertiary education at The UWI for students in borrowing member countries. In addition, digital transformation is central to expanding the internationalisation of UWI programmes—a key strategic goal to diversify the university’s revenue base. The UWI Digital Transformation Project is therefore timely and necessary as it provides the university with the opportunity to push towards the institutional transformation needed to expand its reach as a global university and enhance the UWI brand as an institution of excellence in the Caribbean. The project is also designed to encourage innovative teaching and learning, particularly for more vulnerable and marginalised communities within our regional space,” he stated.

Beckles also emphasised, “We are not just a university planning its own trajectory. We are ensuring that The UWI remains among the best universities in the world, which is where we are located right now, and serving the people of this region. The UWI way has always been to articulate and integrate the interests of the institution with the interests of the region.”

He noted that over decades The UWI had built up a team of ICT technologists and thinkers that is unparalleled in this region.

“We are confident, as a university, in the intellectual and technical capacity of our ICT team. It is that team, currently led by University Chief Information Officer Brigitte Collins, that’s enabled us to survive and soar above the impact of COVID-19. So we are underway with this digital transformation programme and we are able to do this with confidence because we have the internal capacity to do so, and also because we have a reliable and trustworthy strategic partner in the CDB.”

Photo: Team UWI and Team CDB gather at The UWI’s Regional Headquarters in Jamaica for the project launch ceremony for The UWI-CDB Digital Transformation Programme held on February 6.

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