Campus Principal's Report - Open Campus

Dr Luz Longsworth

Dr Luz Longsworth

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Open Campus

A campus for the times...A campus for the future.

Any parent knows that a child’s ninth birthday is an occasion not only for the usual joy and celebration, but also of anticipation for the next milestone: entering double digits. Double digits force you to stop and reflect on the achievements and challenges encountered, and this, the Open Campus’ ninth year, is no different.

In the last nine years, the Open Campus has moved from a fledgling campus to one which, while inevitably affected by the trying economic climate, continues to prove its value to the people in the region by bringing The University of the West Indies to under- served communities and increasing access to its many programmes and services. It does so at 44 sites in 17 countries across the region, not only providing high- quality education for those who wish to further their studies for personal or professional development, but also increasing the presence of the University in the region and becoming a valuable means for ensuring that communities know that The UWI is here to serve its people and give back to its communities in myriad ways.

One of the major ways in which the Open Campus offers increased access is through its Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) programmes—a range of credit and non-credit programmes, which include professional development short programmes, workforce development programmes, personal enrichment programmes, and customised workforce solutions. Such programmes have long been a hallmark offering of our Campus, and many of them have recently been upgraded and re-launched. Our CPE programmes and courses offer students the opportunity to study while remaining in full-time employment, allowing students to immediately put the skills gained into practice in their work environment.

Through the many outreach activities in all 17 countries in which the Campus is present, we are proud to assist our communities however needed. When Tropical Storm Erika ravaged Dominica in August 2015, the Campus rallied together to collect monetary and other donations for those affected, and the Open Campus student guild in Dominica was instrumental in the distribution of the donated items.

Our outreach also extends to the socio-economic development of the region, and our sites remain active in this regard, hosting lectures, workshops and panel discussions on important local and regional issues. Additionally, four country conferences were held in the 2015-2016 academic year, perhaps the most in any single year so far. One such example—the 2016 Belize conference on Leadership for Sustainable Development—provided a forum for discussion, reflection and future action regarding the challenges facing Belize and the region in ensuring sustainability in all areas of social and economic development, and the role that strong leadership plays in securing our future.

The academic year 2015-2016 was also one in which the late Professor Rex Nettleford’s concept of "Inward Stretch, Outward Reach" was central to our operations. Having completed the Open Campus Task Force Governance Review, the Campus redoubled its efforts in preparing its internal operations to assume its new role in the University.