From Reputation to Revenue

It is not a coincidence that The UWI is now deeply embedded in what Vice-Chancellor Beckles has described as the ‘revenue moment’. This was the title of his last presentation to the University Finance and General Purposes Committee on October 28. The language captures the logic of The UWI’s strategic plan that called in phase one for a ‘reputation revolution’ and in phase two the conversion of ‘reputation to revenue’.

Phase one is now complete. The UWI, after four years of internal and external preparations, guided by international quality assurance rubrics and matrices, emerged this year within the Times Higher Education’s University Rankings with a ‘triple 1st’ listing: #1 in the Caribbean; top 1% in Latin America and the Caribbean, and top 1% among global Golden Age universities (more than 50 years, but less than 80 years).

 According to Vice-Chancellor Beckles, the business of leading a top class university “is not an ad hoc affair, but rather both a science and an art. It begins with a vision and an activist strategy” he said. “The UWI’s reputation, regionally and globally is at its highest ever.”

The top priority at the moment, says Vice-Chancellor Beckles, “is the conversion of this reputation into revenue”. It is within this context that two major international unprecedented events took place in the September/October period: the signing of an agreement with the Open Society Foundations (OSF)—arguably the largest donor agency in the world with resources in excess of 30 billion dollars—and a meeting between The UWI and leading multilateral donor agencies, under the joint leadership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, known as ECLAC. Through these, Vice-Chancellor Beckles achieved two unprecedented developments:

  1. A one-on-one discussion with Dr Patrick Gaspard, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region and the role of The UWI in achieving post-COVID growth and development. The meeting led to the decision to sign an MOU between the two organisations in order to facilitate possible grant funding.

  1. The UWI’s joint development partner forum with ECLAC, which was a follow-up to a contribution made by the Vice-Chancellor under the invitation of Executive Director, Dr Alicia Bárcena. He called upon ECLAC to mobilise its multilateral partners to develop a special fund of US$600 million to secure the university sector over the next two years in light of the funding challenges faced by regional governments.

 ECLAC’s agreement to establish a working group to assess The UWI’s request signals a move in the right direction. These two engagements are indicative that The UWI is well on the way in seeking to convert its top class global reputation into international funding.

Photo Caption: Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (seated) extends a friendly virtual handshake to President of Open Society Foundations, Ambassador Patrick Gaspard on Thursday, September 17, 2020 during the signing of an MOU between the two entities. Sharing the moment are Laleta Davis Mattis (standing left), University Counsel and Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Mona Campus.