Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has assured the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves of The UWI’s continued support for the Government and people of the country, following the series of explosive volcanic eruptions which began in early April.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles was at the time on a courtesy call to Prime Minister Gonsalves, on a visit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday, May 14, 2021.
During the visit, the Vice-Chancellor disclosed to Prime Minister Gonsalves that The UWI, beyond the science-management of the natural disaster, has formulated a financial aid strategy for all new and returning Vincentian students of The UWI. He announced that in August this year Vincentian students on all campuses will receive a special provision of tuition and accommodation assistance for the academic year 2021/2022 of up to 50%, based on each campus’ capacity and students’ individual needs. Vice-Chancellor Beckles also identified that 30% of the proceeds from the New York and Toronto fundraising galas would be earmarked to provide specific financial support for students from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
This financial aid package is estimated to benefit approximately 1,200 Vincentian students enrolled in programmes across all UWI campuses. The initiative is described by Vice-Chancellor Beckles as part of the University’s overall monitoring and management of the affairs of students from the islands; those pursuing education online, from their homes; and those who will be returning to various landed campuses; and the new, incoming generation of students.
In his dialogue with Prime Minister Gonsalves, the Vice-Chancellor also pledged The UWI’s continued support in the management of the volcanic/seismic activity on the islands. To date, The UWI has provided a range of support including scientific support, mobilizing relief and financial resources towards health care, education and for students displaced by La Soufriere’s eruptions.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles took the opportunity to congratulate the tremendous work of both The UWI Seismic Research Centre team on the islands since December 2020, and the relief support team coordinated by Dr. Francis Severin, Deputy Principal of The UWI Open Campus. He said the financial and material relief support through the “Rally Round SVG” initiative has amassed significant aid to the country, already
Turning attention to the islands’ recovery, Vice-Chancellor Beckles pledged his personal support to the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in negotiation and diplomacy with international agencies under the rubric of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to enable the country to get back on its feet after being knocked off its targeted development goals as a result of this seismic crisis.
Prime Minister Gonsalves, himself a UWI alumnus and former lecturer conveyed his satisfaction with the efforts of The UWI, and expressed gratitude on behalf of the nation.