Media Release – After in-depth internal strategic planning and discussion with regional education stakeholders, The UWI has finally evolved as a ‘multi-lingual’ institution. A Foreign Language Policy for its five regional campuses has been approved and is being implemented. According to the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies, Professor Justin Robinson, “Going forward, the expectation is that all UWI graduates will be at least conversation competent in a language other than English.”
As a top-ranked global university, this seminal policy development for The UWI advances its compliance with best practices in teaching and learning found in elite-ranked cohorts. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, noted that the “Significant change would enable the further regional and global mobility and empowerment of graduates. Foreign language proficiency will no longer be a major impediment to employment amongst our graduates in the global world.”
The UWI currently has teaching and learning departments on its campuses that produce substantial numbers of graduates with specialised foreign language degrees. Majors and minors in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese (Mandarin) and teaching competencies in others like Arabic, German, Hindi, Korean, and Yoruba have long been commonplace. The introduction of this policy, however, will now see all students participating in foreign language training at a general level.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles elaborated further, “This is a fundamental change that will transform the identity of UWI students and graduates and provide more relevant graduates to serve as a development platform for the new, more modern and globally competitive Caribbean economy.”
The UWI Foreign Language Policy is being implemented on a phased, Faculty-by-Faculty and campus-by-campus basis, beginning in the academic year 2022/2023, with applicability to new incoming undergraduate students only.
Universal coverage and participation of all students are anticipated within the next three academic years. Flexible access and easy learning is the pedagogical principle, with students having the option of self-tutoring or guided instruction. They will have the full academic programme duration to acquire language competence. Those coming into the university with prior competence shall be exempt from this requirement.
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