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UWI wants more private sector support for students

Published:Friday | August 21, 2015 | 2:40 PM

Principal of the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Archibald McDonald wants more private-sector companies to come forward and provide financial support to students attending tertiary institutions.

At the same time, McDonald revealed that the UWI's internship programme was being expanded to ensure that more students are job-ready when they graduate.

He was speaking yesterday at a ceremony in which petroleum providers Total Jamaica presented scholarships to two students - Stephania Saunders and Alexis Smith.

The two are pursuing a bachelor's and master's degree, respectively, in politics and international relations, through a collaboration of UWI, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of the University of Bordeaux, in France and the UniversitÈ des Antilles-Guyane, Schoelcher, in Martinique.

McDonald urged other private- and public-sector entities to follow Total's example and partner with UWI.

"We are not asking for handouts; we are asking for partnerships, and I really feel that more companies in Jamaica need to support our young people," he said.

job-ready students

He acknowledged that the expanded internship programme was a response to the decades-old criticism that UWI was not producing enough job-ready students.

"The University of the West Indies ... is about to embark on a major drive to ensure that when our students leave university, they have more than enough work experience. And not only that, but those who are unable to find jobs will be able to create their own jobs," McDonald added.

Saunders was grateful for the scholarship, acknowledging that she harboured fears that she would be one of those young persons who would not get an opportunity to live her dream.

"That I would have to sit and watch a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by without having the ability to lift a single finger in an effort to save my dreams. And all of this powerlessness would have been due to my financial circumstances," said Saunders, who spoke on Smith's behalf.

"August 21 will always be remembered as the day our dreams made a gigantic leap up the road of fruition," she underscored.

She said they would, in turn, seek to become the voice of the voiceless and give back to their communities. "We must help others achieve their goals," she said.