The University of the West Indies, is an autonomous regional institution supported by and serving 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Each of these countries is either a member of the Commonwealth of Nations or a British Overseas Territory. The aim of the university is to help "unlock the potential for economic and cultural growth" in the West Indies, thus allowing for improved regional autonomy. The University was originally instituted as an independent external college of the University of London.
The university consists of three physical campuses at Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados and the Open Campus. There are satellite campuses in Mount Hope, Trinidad and Tobago (Faculty of Medical Sciences) and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and a Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management in Nassau, Bahamas. The other contributing countries are served by the Open Campus which has a physical presence and Heads of Sites in each of the non-campus countries (and, in fact, the three campus countries as well). The establishment of the Open Campus subsumed the former School of Continuing Studies (SCS), Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU) and UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC) into one entity, the Open Campus, which has the same governance structure as the physical campuses.
The university was founded in 1948 as the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) at Mona in Jamaica, in special relationship with the University of London based on the recommendations of the Asquith Commission. The Commission was established in 1943 and reviewed higher education in the then British colonies.
The University College achieved independent university status in 1962. The St Augustine Campus in Trinidad, formerly the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA), was started in 1960 and the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados was founded in 1963. Before the establishment of the Open Campus, University Centres, headed by a Resident Tutor, were established in each of the other 13 contributing countries.