The University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Global Institute of Software Technology (GIST) in Suzhou, China, are to set up a UWI-China Institute of Science and Technology this year.

The institute, jointly-established, owned and operated by the UWI’s Mona Campus and GIST, will see its first cohort begin studies towards a BSc in Science and Technology at the UWI in September 2016.

Speaking at a press conference at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Kingston on Saturday, UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles said that the institute will utilize a 2+2 model in which students will experience the first two years of instruction at the UWI and the final two years at the GIST in China.

Sir Hilary said that, “this great project is the first major step of UWI into the global space.”

“We have had relationships with hundreds of universities all over the world over several decades, but this is the first occasion that UWI is partnering with another university to establish a new university,” he contended.

“One of the largest nations of the world has now partnered with one of the smallest nations – this is truly significant!” Sir Hilary declared.

Executive Chairman of GIST, Dr Wang Bin Tai, spoke of the establishment of a UWI-China Institute in Suzhou, a project which he said, “will develop a platform for change between the young people in China and the Caribbean.”

He noted too that “Caribbean students who complete their degrees in China, will enjoy all the privileges that Chinese students do, including bursaries, scholarships and internships.”

Dr Wang said that he hoped the institute would serve to mutually increase knowledge about and appreciation for the history and culture among the people of the Caribbean and China.

Jamaican Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said that the government was “in full support of the UWI-China Institute of Science and Technology.”

Referencing former Prime Minister Michael Manley as the man who led the world in recognition of the ‘One China’ policy, Minister Thwaites asserted that, “[Manley] would be happy today at the way the relationship between China and Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean is developing.”

“Jamaica’s development depends on it becoming a location noted for excellence and innovation in science and technology and this institute is an important step in equipping the Caribbean as centres of study and overall excellence in all fields, and in particular in Science, Technology,  Engineering and Math,” Thwaites explained.