Discussions with IBM Canada
A team from IBM Canada's Higher Education division, accompanied by their local counterparts, visited with members of the Open Campus in February 2017. The team presented a range of services that they could offer to the Open Campus. Of particular interest to the Open Campus were the following:
- Use of the Watson system to provide student support services such as the 24 hour helpdesk
- Access to Data Analytics courses that could be
adapted for use in the Open Campus
- Possible collaboration with IBM and Industry to
develop Collaborative Innovation Centres which would serve as Centres for Data Collection and Analysis
Two representatives of the Open Campus, Professor Julie Meeks, Deputy Principal, and Dr. Ngoni Chipere, Planning and Development Officer, participated in a Data Science Expo at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada in April 2017. We are now well advanced in formulating a regional project that will bring state
of the art technology training to our youth through this collaboration with IBM Canada and Carleton University. The leadership and staff of the Open Campus extend gratitude to our institutional partners for their continued kind donations and financial support and the confidence they have in our brand.
Mid-Cycle Accreditation Review
The Campus received the final report from the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC) and was again heartened by its content. The Campus satisfied the requirements for continued accreditation for the remainder of the accreditation cycle (2016-2019). The summary of the final report stated, inter alia, that:
- The Open Campus has made significant progress
since accreditation. There has been excellent progress on both the recommendations of the accreditation report and on the tasks identified by the Campus itself in the course of its self- evaluation. Where action is still in progress there are clear plans and timelines for completion.
- There is a strong culture of continual improvement. Quality assurance and programme approval systems remain broadly as they were at the time of accreditation. This pattern of stable systems improving over time, and evolving to meet changing needs, is a characteristic of a mature institution.
- Many of the systems used by the Open Campus are systems of the University as a whole; this
is likely to become more pronounced as the University proceeds with its ‘One University' integration strategy.
The Open Campus expresses gratitude for the Barbados Accreditation Council's continued support and confidence in the Campus' operations.
Appointment of Chairman, Open Campus Council
The University Council approved the appointment of Ambassador Dr. June Soomer as the new Chairman
of the Open Campus Council at its annual meeting
on April 27, 2017, held at the Cave Hill Campus. Ambassador Soomer assumes this post after the untimely passing of former Chairman, Sir K. Dwight Venner, in December 2016. Ambassador Soomer is charged to formally guide the strategic, financial and administrative affairs of the Open Campus within the University's new strategic direction, regional priorities and global initiatives.
Plans for the Future
The leadership and staff of the Campus extend heartiest thanks to Dr. Lennox Honychurch, who was appointed Acting Chairman of the Open Campus Council, for his stellar performance of duties during the transitional period.
At the end of the academic year 2016/2017 the Campus was justly proud of its achievements despite the financial challenges which had affected government contributions and student tuition
fee payments. However, it was the heart-breaking devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria that slowed down our plans to accelerate growth in Semester
1 of 2017/2018, as we grappled with the near total destruction of our site in Dominica and the near crippling of our operations in Anguilla and Tortola, with students, staff and sites in St. Kitts, Turks and Caicos and St. Maarten being negatively affected.
The word "Resilience", however, fully captures the spirit of our people and we have begun to rebuild and regroup to continue to support our students' learning experience. Without a doubt our major challenge
for the future is to ensure that all our sites are made climate resilient as we face the fact that we are in a region vulnerable to extreme weather systems such as hurricanes. We are therefore deliberately targeting site maintenance and the rebuilding of our Dominica site as priorities for the 2017/2018 year to ensure that we are prepared for the challenges which climate change may bring to the region.
The Open Campus is also very excited about the growing number of partnerships with regional
and international organisations to design new
and innovative programmes for Continuing and Professional Education. As a key strategic initiative, the Campus will be enhancing its structure in order to capitalise on the growing demand for CPE, both in blended and fully online modalities.
Starting from the 2017 academic year the Campus has begun preparing for a major international marketing thrust and has identified key programmes and courses to target the international market. In order
to ensure that international students receive similar student service and care to those students who live near physical sites, the Registry has established a Virtual International Students Office (VISO), which will ensure that students applying and studying with us from outside of the region will have an excellent experience.
As we celebrate The UWI's 70th Anniversary and the Open Campus' 10th year of establishment as a full campus, we take the opportunity to reflect on where we have come from and recommit to providing the best educational experience for all our students and stakeholders. As we move into this new phase of our existence we are proud of our growth and resilience through many storms, living up to our motto of being “A campus for the times and a campus for the future”. As ever, our goal is to continue to open doors to life changing experiences for students, both within the region and without, for many years to come.