UWI, IGL partnership, a lifeline to improving student retention

A partnership between The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and IGL Limited is being hailed as a possible lifeline to the tertiary institution’s attempts to improve the student experience, leading to higher retention.

“This new university administration at Mona has placed student success as a number one priority,” Dr Tomlin Paul, deputy principal of The UWI, Mona, said at the presentation of eight IGL Ignite Foundation scholarships to Faculty of Medicine and School of Nursing students on October 20.

“This new university administration at Mona has placed student success as a number one priority. This success is embedded in the student experience; and that experience can be thought of as a journey. We want our students to enrol, we want our students to not only enrol but to stay the course of their programme. We want them to graduate career-ready and lead a successful career and life, and lastly, we want our students to remain connected as alumni. So we are managing a journey with mileposts of enrolment, retention, persistence, graduation and alumni connection,” Dr Paul added.

Noting that currently The UWI is seeing 80 per cent of students returning after year one of studies, Dr Paul said that “while 80 per cent retention is good by industry standards for universities, we want to see higher rates for Mona. What we are saying is that two out of every 10 students are not coming back. And we are interested in those two students”.

He noted that the top reason affecting student retention is financial support — 20 per cent generally and 28 per cent in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

“While we as a campus support our students to the best of our capacity, the reality is that financial assistance is an area that we cannot go alone. The partnership with IGL provides that support to our students to ensure that they stay in the programme and succeed over time,” Dr Paul declared.

For the next academic year, Dr Paul said, The UWI will be including a Financial GPS as part of its enrolment plan to “allow students to have awareness of financial demands and support from even before they sign up so that they can plan not only their financial journey but academic journey”.

Dr Carl Bruce, medical chief of staff, University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), praised IGL whose relationship with UWI, he said, “goes beyond a partnership”. He referenced outstanding efforts by IGL to ensure Jamaica’s hospitals had medical oxygen during the COVID-19 pandemic and the company’s contributions to the field hospital to house the sick comfortably when the UHWI had exhausted its rooms.

“You know the mark of a real partnership when you are in trouble, when they stand with you in a crisis. IGL stood with us and we are eternally grateful,” Dr Bruce said.

Peter Graham, managing director of IGL, accepted kudos on behalf of the company, noting that “the IGL IGNITE Foundation has, for decades, given back to Jamaica, contributing to the welfare of communities and empowering young people to realise their dreams”.

He said that IGL has “a large footprint in the medical sector with millions of dollars invested in the next generation of health-care professionals, including doctors and nurses”.

At the presentation ceremony at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, IGL Razai Azard Rahaman Scholarships for Medicine were presented to first-year students Alliah Bailey and Tiandra Morgan as well as continuing students Jeremiah Baker, Lisa-Kaye Hutchings, Shannon Marshall, and Javonnie Myers.

IGL Legacy Scholarships for Nursing were presented to Melissa Bell and Toni-Ann Williams.