About the Open Campus - Its Antecedents
The Extra-Mural Department/School of Continuing Studies (SCS)
The UWI was established in 1948 and had the foresight to create an extra-mural department within the University to provide the Caribbean community with essential outreach services. This was seen as an integral part of the very concept of being a regional university.
The UWI was designed to serve an archipelago of 14 countries which were divided by the Caribbean Sea from Belize in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the south – a distance of 3,000 km. The Leeward and Windward Islands , by comparison, are fairly close in proximity. However, they are over 1,600 km from Jamaica , which further compounds the challenges of distance.
Since those early days, the Extra-Mural Department of UWI has evolved into the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), which has used its extensive extra-mural experience to offer direct local and regional responses to the need for continuing knowledge, skills, professional development, research, and cultural identity throughout the Caribbean.
The Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU)
In addition to these developments in continuing education and distance teaching, the UWI also continued to work through the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU) to serve other regional educational institutions.
The TLIU was one of the three executing arms of the University's Board for Non-Campus Countries and Distance Education established in August 1996 to promote, manage and deliver the work of the University in the region. This was a part of the wider effort to make more equitable the services offered to the countries hosting the University's three main campuses and the other 12 countries, which all maintained the University.
The primary objectives of the TLIU were to manage franchise and articulation arrangements and other collaborative processes between UWI and other regional tertiary level institutions; promote institutional development of regional TLIs, thus enhancing their capacity to deliver portions of or full degree programmes; undertake research designed to improve tertiary level development, and design, procure funds for and manage special projects to address identified tertiary education development needs.
The UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC)
As part of this integral outreach to the Caribbean countries that it serves, the University also sought to expand its ability to improve its distance education services.
Distance teaching is not new to the Caribbean or to the UWI, as ever since the 1940s, people in the region were reading for degrees throughcorrespondence courses, mainly from England.
In the 1970s, UWI introduced the Challenge Examination Scheme, a new concept in distance education. Challenge was soon absorbed by the University Distance Teaching Enterprise
(UWIDITE), which further evolved into the University Distance Teaching Centre (UWIDEC) in 1996.
All of these developments in the application of telecommunications technology further fuelled the expansion of the University's services in education, outreach and public service in the region.
The Open Campus
This background serves to put in context the way in which the University has come full circle in 2008 - it's 60th anniversary -through the establishment of an Open Campus which has unified all of its outreach, teaching and public service areas.
With new technologies, courses and programmes, trained e-tutors, and over 60 years of teaching and research experience, the Open Campus is ready to deliver higher education services to empower more Caribbean people.
Already, over 20,000 students are currently enrolled in its existing programmes across the Caribbean , with new prospects growing all the time.
The Open Campus may now describe itself as the latest entity within the University service system, but in full possession of an ‘old soul'.