Increasing Public Access to University Qualifications: Evolution of The University of the West Indies Open Campus


  • Michael L. Thomas The University of the West Indies
  • Judith Soares The University of the West Indies



West Indies, open education, strategic planning


This paper traces the evolution of The University of the West Indies’ Open Campus (UWIOC), which is expected to expand service and increase access to the underserved communities of the Eastern Caribbean. At present, UWI, which caters to the needs of the 16 far flung countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, has not been able to fully serve these countries, the UWI-12, in a way that is commensurate with their developmental needs. Historically, the institution has been dominated by campus-based education, and its three campuses have been poles of attraction for scholars and scholarship to the significant advantage of the countries in which they are located: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. The University’s creation of an open campus, a fourth campus, enables it to expand its scope, enhance its appeal, and improve the efficiency of its services to individuals, communities, and countries. This new campus, a merger of UWI’s Outreach sector, which comprises the School of Continuing Studies, the Tertiary Level Institute Unit, and The UWI Distance Education Centre, will have a physical presence in each contributing country and will function as a network of real and virtual modes to deliver education and training to anyone with access to Internet facilities.

Author Biographies

Michael L. Thomas, The University of the West Indies

Formerly Research Officer at the UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC), Michael Thomas is now Research Officer in the Institutional Research Unit, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of the West Indies-Open Campus based at the Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. A graduate of the Mausica Teachers’ College, he had 25 years experience as a teacher in Trinidad and Tobago before joining the UWI and has taught throughout the education system from primary to adult education. A recipient of a Trinidad and Tobago Government Scholarship, he graduated from the Cipriani Labour College in Trinidad with qualifications in Labour Relations. He was Trinidad and Tobago’s first Research and Development Officer in its then newly created Distance Learning Secretariat, Ministry of Information, Communication, Training and Distance Learning. He is also a Fellow of the COL/Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship Scheme and holds both a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDDE) and Master’s Degree in Distance Education from the Indira Gandhi National Open University. He is the editor, author, and co-author of a number of articles and book chapters and has presented papers at a variety of international conferences on distance education in Africa, Canada, Hawaii and New Zealand as well as in the Caribbean. His research interests are in the area of adaptive mobile learning technology and its potential for revolutionizing distance education, blended learning, and trade issues related to higher education.

Judith Soares, The University of the West Indies

Judith Soares is Senior Lecturer and Head, Women and Development Unit, The University of the West Indies. As Head of the UWI's Women's Outreach Unit, her work centres on issues relating to women's social and economic advancement through non-formal education and distance learning, community income generating projects, research and documentation.



How to Cite

Thomas, M. L., & Soares, J. (2009). Increasing Public Access to University Qualifications: Evolution of The University of the West Indies Open Campus. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(1).



Research Articles