The University of the West Indies plans to issue a US$60 million bond to raise capital to set up an offshore medical school at the St Augustine Campus.
UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles announced yesterday that the university will be partnering with the Trinidad and Tobago Government on the project.
He said it is hoped that in three to five years the project will generate more than 30 per cent of the revenue for the campus.
At a virtual media conference yesterday, Beckles listed the UWI bond issue among a ten-point plan to “move the UWI into the future”.
Also on the list is the plan to curtail the university’s expenditure by introducing cross-campus teaching, making the UWI a global campus with up to 200,000 students from around the world and taking The UWI to countries like Guyana, Suriname, Colombia and Canada.
The UWI bond
Beckles noted that when he became vice-chancellor about six years ago, the debt owed to the UWI by governments was around US$117 million .
He said the UWI engaged the various governments and campuses and worked with them, and this debt has been reduced to US$51 million.
“We told the Government if you don’t have the cash, let us work through a new methodology. Give us an asset if you don’t have the cash. It is out of that process Prime Minister Rowley pledged the state-of-the-art Couva Hospital, which has been placed within the UWI context to be converted into business so that we could generate some cash going forward,” he said.
He noted that the previous Government had also given the UWI 100 acres of land and US$100 million to construct a southern campus.
“What if all of this now can be used as the basis of an offshore medical school? The region is crawling with offshore medical schools. It is one of the most densely concentrated offshore medical countries in the world. What if The UWI can get some of that revenue. We are not going to sit idly by and let all of these international universities come in and take advantage of this market. We need to be in the market,” Beckles stressed.
“We are the most reputable medical faculty in the region. We have the finest collections of surgeons. We have the finest medical team. We have the best collection of doctors in the whole Caribbean and now we have a legacy of 70 years of medical teaching, learning and research. “We are taking that to the market and we’re going to compete. And so, the Council has approved the establishment of an offshore medical school with permission to go to the market to raise a US$60 million bond,” he said.
Beckles said the UWI will be sorting out technical details with the T&T Government and when this is done, the UWI will launch its bond.
“We imagine that in three to five years that business project can be generating up to 25 per cent, 30 per cent, maybe more, of the campus’ finances. It’s magnificent,” he emphasised.
Beckles said the UWI has established a team of actuaries and financial specialists to look at the project.
He said the corporate investment committee is co-chaired by the Unit Trust Corporation’s chairman Gerry Brooks, Sagicor’s Dodridge Miller and Jamaica’s Mitchell Howard.