JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has announced that within the next two years, a university will be opened in St. James, catering to residents living in the western parishes of the island.
Cabinet yesterday (March 27), gave its approval to the conceptualisation and development of the University of Western Jamaica.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, the Prime Minister said that among the course offerings that would be delivered at the new university are, education with an emphasis on English and Spanish; tourism and hospitality management; accounting and management; entertainment and culture with linkages to environmental studies and sustainable development; information technology, focusing on hardware and software development for export; and medical sciences, with a specific focus on nursing to fulfil domestic requirements as well as nursing for those who wish to pursue their professions overseas. “That will also include a particular emphasis on geriatric nursing, which is a post-graduate area of specialisation,” he noted.
He said the government was working alongside the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology (UTech), through special distance programmes, noting that Harrison College, Montego Bay Community College, and Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, all established institutions located in the western part of the island, would form part of the proposed University of Western Jamaica.
“The purpose of the university is to provide an information technology, distance learning alternative means of higher education to a wide cross section of students in select and discreet areas of study and within an environment that is relevant to the areas of training offered,” Prime Minister Patterson explained.
The new university, he added, would be linked with existing tertiary institutions that are already preparing persons for university-level matriculation. He said Cabinet has given its approval to proceed with the completion of the plans for the establishment of the University of Jamaica.
Mr. Patterson indicated that to finalise building plans, “we will need a pool of funds amounting in the order of US$15 million and that would become available from current programmes, including those which are funded by the Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology”.
“The Ministry of Education will now assume carriage of this matter and an Advisory Board will be established to implement this project. It will have to receive a charter from the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) and the Attorney General will guide that legal process,” he added.
Mr. Patterson said the Ministry of Commerce would work with the Attorney General’s Department to establish a not-for-profit Foundation, while the Ministry of Education would be invited to publish the relevant schemes of arrangement, and the Council of the Western University of Jamaica would be invited to work with the UCJ to finalise the arrangement.
“We hope that the university could come into being within a maximum of two years from now. We are going to be using existing building facilities which presently house colleges and training institutions that will be incorporated within the University of the West Indies,” he told journalists.
He said currently, there are plans afoot to have the university’s central site be headquartered in Montpelier, St. James.