The senior executive leadership of The University of the West Indies (The UWI)—the Vice-Chancellor, Campus Principals, Pro Vice Chancellors, University Bursar and University Registrar—have all committed to allocating a percentage of their salaries for the next three months towards a student hardship fund. The aim of the fund is to promote equity of access for all students as well as provide much needed additional counselling services during this time.
The executive leadership of the regional university has recognised that the rapid transition to emergency online teaching in response to the regional spread of COVID-19 has exposed the enormity of challenges facing financially and socially marginalised students. With a student
body of close to 50,000, at least 10,000 of them are believed to be functioning in a social circumstance that makes it excessively difficult to participate equally and equitably in this moment of digital intensification.
The principals across The UWI’s five campuses stepped up in developing remedial projects to confront this reality and to restore the level playing field provided by the physical classroom culture. The UWI alumni have been called upon to participate in fundraising and philanthropists have also responded by donating hundreds of tablets.
The offer of a salary-source contribution from the executive leadership to enhance student well being “is another part of the UWI CARES project, designed to empower any excluded element of the student body,” says Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. He explained,
“This is a justice gesture to further illustrate our commitment. We are here to serve and support them in their quest to succeed.”