UWI Graduate School for Tourism by 2020
The University of the West Indies (UWI) should have its first-ever Graduate School of Tourism up and running at its Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay by the beginning of 2020.
Speaking at the official groundbreaking for the new UWI Western Jamaica Campus at Barnett Oval in Montego Bay last Friday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said that the university’s global recognition as a powerful intellectual institution will position it to make an even more substantive contribution to the development of the region through the school of tourism.
He also said The UWI was among a plethora of academic institutions introducing or repackaging tourism as an important element of their curriculum.
The grad school comes on the heels of the Global Tourism Resilience Centre opened at The UWI, Mona, campus in St Andrew and forms part of efforts to boost human capital in an industry that is flourishing and expects 60,000 more workers in five years.
REIMAGINE TOURISM PORTFOLIO
“Through its many courses, centres and institutes, The UWI has been preparing our Caribbean nationals for the expanding opportunities and benefits being presented by the growth of the tourism sector,” he said.
“It is time for The UWI to reimagine its tourism portfolio and consolidate its programmes, courses, institutes, centres, etc., under one roof here in one of the Caribbean’s mecca of tourism … . And, although I cannot speak for my Caribbean counterparts, I am more than certain it would also have the support of the government of the region,” he added.
Excited by the prospects, UWI principal, Professor Dale Webber, said the university has always had the establishment of a graduate school of tourism in its strategic plans and the new campus in the heart of the tourism belt is the ideal place for it to be located.
“We have always thought we would put the graduate school of tourism in our current Mona School of Business and Management or our Centre for Tourism and Policy. But now we have a new vehicle, having established what we have just started here at the Western Jamaica Campus Barnett site. We think this can be the location where we can have this,” Webber told The Gleaner.
With respect to the timeline for full implementation, the professor said he does not envision that the centre, which he described as UWI’s flagship institution in the west, will be ready for the beginning of the new academic year in September.
He said first it had to be sanctioned by the academic, finance and other boards, but noted that it should nevertheless be established in time for the second semester.
“The university systems work a little slower than most entities,” he explained. “This will have to go through at least two or three of our processes … . We would like it for September, but that is going to be really, really difficult. We are going to try for January 2020.”
He said the school will serve to complement the other tourism training institutions in western Jamaica that currently provide undergraduate studies and will serve as feeders to The UWI’s postgraduate programmes.
Bartlett, in pledging his full support, said the establishment of the school was a matter of critical importance given the robust nature of UWI’s tourism portfolio, changes in the tourism space, new instruction technologies, and what he described as the ever-diversifying nature of tourism.