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The UWI preparing for the capital market.

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The UWI preparing for the capital market.

The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Friday, March 13, 2020—On March 10, regional finance leaders in the private sector went into retreat with the leadership of The University of the West Indies (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.

Convened by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, an Economic Historian who has served on the regional board of Sagicor Financial for many years, the gathering included Group President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited, Dodridge Miller; CEO of the Jamaica National Group, Earl Jarrett; former Managing Director of National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited, Jeffrey Cobham as well as former Chairman of the NGC Group of Companies and retired Group Chief Operating Officer of ANSA McAL, Gerry Brooks.

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

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

The UWI is seeking sustainable revenue streams from non-government sources in order to sustain its growth and reputation as the number one university in the Caribbean, ranked among the top 4% of the world’s best. Currently, the governments of the region contribute 48% of The UWI’s total operational budget, down from 75% just 25 years ago. “Its future growth and modernisation will require access to the private investment option,” the Vice-Chancellor noted.

Strategic growth and development call for investments in modern for-profit facilities that will generate net incomes to support future capitalization. The group considered the relative merits of debt and equity financing, and looked at the short-term capital injection and long-term sustainability options. The idea of a dedicated UWI Alumni bond was also considered.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles concluded that, “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.” The first venture is likely to be rolled out during the summer, with others coming on stream for 2021/2022.

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About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI 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. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit www.uwi.edu.

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)