October 27, 2014 marks 50 years since certification of the last complete batch of University of the West Indies (UWI) degrees granted in association with the University of London.
For its first 14 years of existence, from 1948-1962, the university was designated the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) and its degrees were awarded in collaboration with the University of London, which had similar associations with various newer universities across the former British empire. After receiving its independent charter as the University of the West Indies in 1962, there was a period ranging from one to four years when students who had started their degrees under the UCWI regime, would complete them within the ambit of the independent University of the West Indies. This group would be unique in that their graduation certificates would be from the University of London and the University (not University College) of the West Indies.
The class whose graduation certificates are dated October 27, 1964 – though they were actually presented to the Chancellor a few months later – would also be the last to wear the black graduation gown of the University of London/UCWI. Thereafter, only a small number of students, mainly the medical class which took a five year degree rather than the more common three-year undergraduate degree, would continue to wear the black and receive UWI/University of London certification; while the mass of their colleagues, now graduates of the University of the West Indies, wore the university’s new blue graduate gowns and received UWI certificates.
UWI now presents its graduates over a month each October to November, with the Chancellor and high officials travelling to the various campuses across the Caribbean for the ceremonies. Mona, the founding campus of the university, is traditionally the final stop. For 2014, the Open Campus graduation took place in St Lucia on October 11, followed on subsequent weekends by Cave Hill, Barbados and St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Mona graduation takes place October 31-November 1.