Once upon a time, the end of August would have found university students across the Caribbean enjoying a prolonged summer break. The first students at the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI) started on Monday October 4, 1948.
These were 33 medical students from all across the Caribbean who had come to the new regional university at Mona in Jamaica. Those from the Eastern and Southern Caribbean had come by air or sea. Newspaper reports reflect the potential importance of this bold step to significantly broaden the higher education available in the region.
The UCWI – the University of the West Indies (UWI) from 1962 – used the British system of three terms, with exams sat at the end of the academic year. The old UWI tradition that studying for exams had better be in train before the golden poui started blooming in March or April, has its roots in that rigorous system.
The semester system, now the norm, was initiated in 1990/1991during the Vice-Chancellorship of Sir Alister McIntyre.