Dr. Fraser- Point of View
February 9, 2007
UWI Cave Hill ambassador

Last year the Caribbean media featured the achievement of Jamaican, O’Neil Simpson who won the Individual World Public Speaking Championship title at the 26th World Universities Debating Championships held in Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Simpson who is a law student at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies was representing the Cave Hill campus at what was their first official participation in the competition. This distinction was achieved at a competition in which 342 teams from 148 universities and colleges from over 50 countries participated. He had previously, in 2003 and 2004 been part of the Mona campus Debating team for the World Universities and College Debating Championships in South Africa and Singapore.{{more}} In 2006 he hit gold. The 25 year old student has brought high acclaim to the University of the West Indies and in particular to the Cave Hill campus. In recognition of his achievement he has been awarded the inaugural UWI Cave Hill Ambassador- at- Large Honour Roll. As part of his Tour of Duty, Mr. Simpson will visit St.Vincent and the Grenadines from February 20-24. A program of activities is currently being organised and will be presented to the media at a later date.

O’Neil Simpson is a Jamaican student from Mt. Carey, a community in the rural parish of St. James in Western Jamaica. This latest achievement is among a list of other accomplishments. He is already in possession of a B.A degree in History and Modern Languages, a post-graduate diploma in Education, a graduate diploma in Business Administration, a certificate in French from UWI, a certificate in Spanish from the Centro de Estuadios Superiores E Intercambios Extranjeros (Centre for Higher Studies and Foreign Exchange) in Mexico, and a certificate in Advanced Spanish from the Universidad del Norte (Northern University) Columbia. In 2003 he was awarded the Jamaica Gleaner’s National Honours Award for Excellence in Education. For the 2003- 2004 period he received the UWI Mona Premier Student Award for Culture with 3 certificates of excellence in Dance, Debate and Music. O’Neil is a well-rounded and involved individual. He was a member of the University Singers of Mona, of the University Dance Society and the Panoridim Steel Orchestra, continuing at Cave Hill as a member of the Cavite Chorale and the Campus University Dance Society.

And this is of course not all. He has been a presenter on Jamaican and Caribbean Culture within and outside the region. His work in literacy rehabilitation in his home community and his involvement through his Mona hall of residence in a homework programme within inner-city garrison communities stand out and reflect the kind of person he is. He is truly an outstanding and highly involved individual whose youth and all-round accomplishments spanning the academic, cultural and community fields make him a worthy ambassador and role model for young people. The Cave Hill campus has thus fittingly provided him with this Ambassador- at- Large position. His duties will involve travel to contributing countries of the University where he will promote the University and the opportunities it has to offer to students and the region. He will also involve himself with topics relating to youth development. In an era when we tend largely to associate young people with drugs and many of the social ills of our societies it is good to be able to promote someone who has done young people and his region proud. His is a success story we should really promote.

UWI Open Campus

During the period 2005-2006 the University of the West Indies undertook a series of consultations and human resource needs assessment surveys in what used to be called the non-campus countries of the University of the West Indies. This was combined with discussions and research surrounding the University’s 2007- 2012 Strategic Plan to inform new directions. Arising from the different consultations and discussions was a decision to restructure the Outreach sectors of the University which comprise the University of the West Indies Distance Education programme, the School of Continuing Studies and the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit.

The idea of the Open campus is meant to be a response to needs raised by the non-campus countries and by communities in the campus countries that have for varying reasons been underserved. In examining the situation one was faced with the rather modest intake of students from the non-campus countries; by the fact that these communities have had limited access to the research and development capacity and general potential of the University. It is realised that a large part of the population of those countries without campuses has been unable to access university education for a variety of reasons, in some cases cost, work and family commitments. There are also real limitations in terms of the physical capacity of the existing campuses to include large numbers from these countries. One of the areas where need was strongly expressed was in graduate work and research where real constraints limit the ability of graduates with their work and family commitments to easily access graduate programmes. The new campus is also a way of responding to needs expressed by special, professional and vocational groups and others interested in continuing education.

The campus is not meant to be a replica of existing campuses but will be a virtual campus with a physical presence in each of the colonies. It will take advantage of available technology and will attempt to reach previously underserved communities in the campus countries and Caribbean people wherever they are through asynchronous delivery but its enhanced physical presence in non-campus countries will allow it also to offer face to face delivery where it is found most appropriate. The Open Campus will build links with the Community and National Colleges through the Tertiary Level Institutional Unit that has been working with colleges with franchise arrangements and in programme articulation. It will seek in this regard to assist with capacity building for educational institutions within our countries. Short courses at pre-University, graduate and post graduate levels plus continuing education and professional development will be on offer.

The campus also should be in a position to respond to issue driven programs and courses and to offer collaboration with problem driven research. The kind of work that has been the traditional prerogative of the Schools of Continuing Studies in the areas of culture and social development and responding to broad social needs will continue in the new arrangement.

The campus is a reorganisation of the University’s Outreach sector and will capitalise on new developments in technology to make its reach wide and to increase access to university offerings. UWI is a regional institution and the new formation is intended to serve as fully as possible all parts of the region.