The UWI Cave Hill Campus gains maximum period in Reaccreditation
BAC_Certificate_Principal_UWI_2.jpgAfter a rigorous process of examination, including site visits, examination of all financial and other documents, and interviews with a cross section of members of the Campus community, the Cave Hill Campus was reaccredited for the maximum period allowed. These are some highlights of the factual report accompanying the reaccreditation of the Campus:
 
1. The Campus faced a major challenge with the decision of the former Government of Barbados to require Barbadian students to pay tuition fees; the consequence of this being a 41% drop in enrolment. Many institutions would not have survived such a drop. The Cave Hill Campus responded with measures to assist students and reduce expenditure and was able to continue as a going concern. The resilient response of the Campus, and the support of staff at all levels for it, was commendable. A change of Government in 2018 resulted in reversal of the policy, and enrolment is now recovering.

2. Despite these challenges, within this period the Campus went ahead with a number of externally funded capital developments, fully maintained its work of programme development and quality assurance, and it continues to take a positive view of future opportunities.

3. The Campus has a well-developed culture of professionalism and reflective practice in teaching and learning, developed and sustained by the Campus Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

4. The Campus has the leadership and resilience to shape future change.

5. The Campus is well served by robust, University-wide systems of programme approval and quality assurance.

6. The Campus leadership sees student centredness, quality assurance and staff engagement as being key characteristics of the Campus. The role of the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning is seen as playing a critical role in developing these characteristics. From its engagement with the Campus, the team considers these views to be well-founded.

7. The student voice is heard. There are student representatives on the main campus committees (including the Academic Board and the Finance and General Purposes Committee) and on the main University-wide committees. The Guild had good relationships with management, particularly with senior management at the level of the Principal and Registrar, who were regarded as responsive. Relationships at lower levels were not always as smooth.

8. The team enquired as to student views on the extent to which the Campus fulfilled the University value of student centredness. The view of the Guild was that this was good at the top of the Campus, but there was some room for improvement at other levels. There was an acknowledgement by the Guild that steps were being taken to improve, and that the Quality Assurance Unit played a valuable role in this.

9. The visiting team found the self-evaluation to be reflective and analytical, addressing the various challenges faced by the Cave Hill Campus. The Report, its appendices and the other materials provided during the visit were of considerable assistance to the team in conducting its evaluation.

10. The effectiveness of Campus governance has improved since initial accreditation. Information flow to committees has been improved, with targets for document circulation and greater use of electronic dissemination of documents.

11. The Campus has the greatest diversity of any of the physical campuses of The UWI, with significant numbers of students from throughout the Caribbean. The resultant cultural diversity is valued by students who regard it as enriching their experience of higher education.

Some Concerns
A significant challenge for the Campus is the renewal or replacement of the buildings housing the Faculty of Science and Technology.
The Faculty of Science and Technology suffers from laboratory facilities that are no longer fully fit for purpose, smaller pieces of equipment are in need of replacing and some departments suffer from delays with procurement and custom clearance.
 
The team enquired of the Guild about problem areas. They felt that the Smart Campus initiative still had some way to go, that maintenance issues were a concern, and that there were some worries about campus security. There were some weaknesses with Wi-Fi coverage, with some blackspots remaining. The Moodle platform was regarded as good, and when used well as ‘brilliant’. There was a concern that some older lecturers were reluctant to make full use of it.
 
Conclusion
At the level of the Cave Hill Campus, the leadership team has navigated successfully the difficult set of circumstances of the withdrawal of tuition fees and the consequent substantial fall in enrolment. Few higher education institutions have faced a fall in enrolment on this scale, and over a very short timescale. The success of the Campus in dealing with it gives confidence in the ability of the leadership and staff of the Campus to cope with any future challenging change. In general, the constituent functions of the Cave Hill Campus are well led. From the meetings the team had with Campus, the leadership came over as competent, professional and collegiate.
 
Overall, the team considers that the leadership of the University and the Cave Hill Campus is well placed to both shape and lead change.
 
Overall, the strong relationship the University has built with its sponsoring Governments, the leadership role of the Vice-Chancellor in relation to the Governments, and the strengthening of the balance sheet through the gifting of substantial assets all give confidence that the University can be regarded as a going concern.
 
Determined leadership and supportive staff ensured the Campus survived the drop in enrolment and income resulting from the period when the Government of Barbados no longer paid tuition fees. The Campus is diversifying its sources of income, and planning confidently for the future.
 
The culture of professionalism and reflective practice in teaching and learning is exemplary and serves the students of the Campus well.
 
The team commends the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus for:
  • Its handling of the financial crisis and dramatic fall in enrolment following the change in tuition fees policy.
  • The exemplary work of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).
  • The strong and reflective culture of teaching and learning that characterises the Campus.
  • Its strong engagement with the community it serves.
  • The positive view taken, by staff at all levels, of future opportunities.
 
Overall, there can be confidence not just in the systems in place to manage change, but in the capacity of the University and the Campus to lead in times of change and to shape that change.

PHOTO: Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau receives the Certificate of Institutional Accreditation from Margo Lady Ann Hewitt, Chairman of the Barbados Accreditation Council

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