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UWI earns independence in the same year as country

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2021 | 11:23 PM
Her Royal Highness, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone

The year 1962 was important for the island of Jamaica. It was the year the country became a sovereign nation. But something else happened that year. The University of the West Indies (UWI) no longer had to send its students to the University of London for final accreditation. The UWI was now independent.

Published  April 10, 1962

UC Now Full University

The Royal Charter converting the University of the West Indies into a full-fledged university was passed under the Great Seal of the Realm on Monday, April 2.  News of the signing was officially announced yesterday by the University authorities.

In a statement, it was said that the new status will not affect students who are now at the College.  These will continue their studies in the courses for which they have been registered – the courses leading to degrees of the University of London in special relation with the University College of the West Indies.

But students who enter the University in October this year will read for degrees granted by an independent University of the West Indies.

Yesterday’s release was as follows:

“On April 2, the new Royal Charter for the University of the West Indies was passed under the Great Seal of the Realm.  This had been foreshadowed for some time, particularly in the addresses given at the Presentation of Graduates at the University College in February last by H.R.H. the Chancellor and by Dr. P.S. Noble, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London,

both of whom congratulated the College on its achievements which had merited the assumption of full University status.  H.R.H. the Princess Alice is the first Chancellor and Dr. W. Arthur Lewis the first Vice-Chancellor of the new University.

Medical Degrees

The present students will continue their studies in the courses for which they have been registered leading to degrees of the University of London in special relation with the University College of the West Indies.  New students admitted from October next will read for degrees of the University of West Indies.  All students applying for entrance this year had been so advised.

“Steps are being taken to ensure that the medical degrees to be awarded by the University of the West Indies will be recognised for registration by the General Medical Council of Britain as in the case of the present degrees under the scheme of special relation.”

Intimation  of the University College of the West Indies’ becoming an independent University, was given last year, when a special meeting of the Council of the UCWI was held to discuss proposals for the college to become a degree-granting university in its own right.  At that time, the target date was set for 1963.

At the presentation of Graduates of the College earlier this year, H.R.H Princess Alice, Chancellor of the College, announced that the College was “soon-to-become-a-university in its own right.”  Intimation of the College becoming an independent university was also made by Dr. P.S. Noble, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, during the presentation ceremony.

The University College of the West Indies was the immediate outcome of the recommendations of the Irvine Report. That report was presented to the British Parliament in June, 1945 and was accepted by that body.  The College was incorporated by Royal Charter, which passed under the Great Seal, on January 5, 1949.  Its first principal Dr. Thomas Taylor, was appointed in 1946 by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the recommendation of the Inter-University Council.

In a conference at Montego Bay in 1947, the governments of seven British West Indian Colonies agreed to meet recurrent  expenditure of the College under a system of quinquennial block grants.

H.R.H. Principal Alice, Countess of Athlone, was appointed Chancellor of the College in 1949.