WILLEMSTAD, SANTO DOMINGO – Recently, the Rector Magnificus and the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Curaçao Dr. Moises da Costa Gomez (UoC) traveled to the Dominican Republic to celebrate the 50th anniversary of UNICA. UNICA is the association of universities, research centers and colleges in the Caribbean that was established in 1968 to facilitate partnerships and mutual respect through higher education in the Caribbean.
UNICA celebrated its Golden Jubilee and is looking back on these 50 years gone by, the board has felt it’s time to revitalize UNICA. UNICA ceases to exist and there is a new organization called ‘Universities Caribbean’. The reason for this is that this name is more content-rich and identifies the universities in the region a lot more.
The strategy of ‘Universities Caribbean’ is based on 3 pillars: Reputation, Resilience and Revenue. People work on reputation by working together with partners in the Caribbean to realize the role of universities and research by working together on projects and acting as advisors to both the public and private sector. Moreover, universities should become more visible and present in societies by engaging themselves even more in community issues. Resilience stands for the skills of universities to contribute and apply knowledge and research to recover from natural catastrophes, economic crisis etc. Revenue: the financial structure and the funding of universities must be more solid. Universities must go outside the walls of the university while simultaneously working on revenues, sustainable financial stabilization. In the Dominican Republic, the rectors agreed with all partners, both English-speaking, French-speaking, Spanish-speaking and Dutch-speaking to join forces in order to jointly work on strengthening research and higher education in the Caribbean.
In the context of their 50-year existence, a Youth Forum has also been organized, where young people have also had the opportunity to provide input regarding the operational plan of Universities Caribbean. A student from the UoC participated. The Scholarship Universities Caribbean 2020 has also been set up. This is awarded every 2 years to a student who follows a graduate program and does this partly at 3 different universities (joint degree). Upon completion of the study, the student actually receives a diploma from 3 universities.
The Rector Magnificus of the UoC, by virtue of his position as Vice-President of Universities Caribbean, stated in his dissertation that the Caribbean must recognize diversity, but at the same time work on unity, because the package that is offered to the world must become broader. He also emphasizes that “professionals have to be created who work for their own country, who help to build up the Caribbean, because if the Caribbean had had this, then we would not be in the situation of poverty, exclusion and social inequality, where we are now. So that is why we need to work together to tackle the problems of helping the Caribbean to come out on top by eradicating poverty, exclusion and social inequalities and unbalanced income distribution.”