UWI to return to physical classes in September


FILE PHOTO: UWI’s St Augustine Campus, North Entrance –

UWI St Augustine Campus Principal Prof Brian Copeland said the campus will be reopened to in-person classes in September. He said the university will be adopting all necessary protocols to keep students safe.

Speaking at the annual meeting of UWI St Augustine’s Campus Council, Copeland said protocols included masking, sanitisation and social distancing.

“Some students have been coming to campus to do lab sessions which cannot be carried out online. In terms of teaching, many of the courses will remain online, but there will be a hybrid spectrum ranging from full face-to-face to online. Our teaching staff, academics, lecturers will be liking to see how they can best deliver topics in the curriculum and if arrangements need to be made for face-to-face, then they will be made.

“Be mindful again that especially social distancing, six-foot spacing, reduces a large room to about 16 per cent of capacity, which poses a huge difficulty in presenting face-to-face classes, particularly where there is a large class. We will be looking to see what can be delivered from a pedagogical standpoint, what needs to be delivered physically on campus, but we are looking for a slow return to more vibrant campus activity.”

In presenting the UWI St Augustine 2020/2021 Annual Report, Copeland said there had been a decrease in postgraduate enrolment in that year, which had increased in the current year, while undergraduate enrolment had remained fairly constant.

“Total enrolment was 15,931. Undergraduate enrolment held relatively steady at 11,273. Postgraduate enrolment declined by four per cent to 4,658. General enrolment declined by one per cent.”

Copeland said there will be a review of tuition fees, as they had not changed in 21 years. He reminded that UWI’s fees are among the lowest in the region. He said the university will examine the cost of delivering courses and use this to determine the new prices.

“Currently students are paying approximately 12 per cent, and with GATE even less. Our research indicates that they are supposed to be carrying 20 per cent. We want to see a change in culture where students are responsible for their tuition, either on their own or with various means of support, as occurs in other countries. We want to reduce dependence on governments to provide funding, but put in place new and enhanced funding streams for students through sponsorship, scholarships, loans, etc.”

Copeland said income during 2020/2021 was $637,777, 044, with expenditure being $617,533,224. Some cost reduction initiatives included freezing unfilled positions, staff reductions via attrition, the reduction of part-time teaching staff contracts from one year to nine months, and renegotiating service agreement contracts with vendors, and reorganisation of work flow to reduce overtime.

The campus bursar said the excess was spent on upgrading IT services, and assisting the Faculty of Medical Sciences to defray its expenses.

Copeland said approximately $4.3 million non-governmental scholarships and bursaries were distributed to 454 students. He said funding of approximately $45 million, including $38 million in EU grant funding, had been gathered for investment in research and scholarship.

Copeland said there is a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, with a pipeline in place for developing projects so that the university can capitalise on its intellectual property.

He said there were eight focal areas for the campus’ 2030 vision. One was the delivery mode, which he said would be a hybrid, fit for purpose mix of distance learning and face-to-face. Another was teaching and learning, which would primarily be driven by market needs. A third was research and scholarship which should be impactful and drive innovation.

Campus Registrar Dawn Marie De Four-Gill said the university’s policy for remote work would be ready in the next two weeks and would then be shared with staff.

Copeland commended the faculties for the initiatives they had taken to drive innovation during the covid19 period.

He received a standing ovation at the end of his presentation, as this would be the last report he would be presenting as Campus Principal, as he would be retiring in the next few months.

The report can be found at https://sta.uwi.edu/news/reports/default.asp

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