• Feature
    Director at the International University of the Caribbean (IUC), Marcia Hextal, addressing a recent JIS Think Tank.
    Photo: Adrian Walker

    The International University of the Caribbean (IUC) continues to position itself as a tertiary educational institution of choice in Jamaica, particularly in preparing young people to meet the demands of a competitive global employment environment.

    Founded in 2005 by the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the institution is committed to taking students “from where they are” and working with them to ensure that they complete their areas of study and receive the desired qualification.

    The IUC offers training from the certificate to the doctoral level, but major focus is placed on persons seeking vocational and technical educational opportunities.

    The standard qualification for entry into the undergraduate degree programmes is five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes, including English language and mathematics. However, the institution places greater importance on engaging young persons who leave high school with neither skills nor certification. Director at the institution, Marcia Hextall, tells JIS News that “there is a realisation that persons need to be able to articulate from one level of education to the other and at IUC, we specialise in ensuring that this process happens”.

    She notes that the IUC approached the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information (MoEYI) as early as 2012, to engage students in the Career Advancement Programme (CAP), which has now been replaced by the sixth-form programme.

    This allowed grade-11 students an opportunity to pursue National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) courses, equipping them with skills, knowledge and understanding to perform in the workplace.

    “Since then, we have graduated hundreds of students with certificates and diplomas in areas such as food and beverage, allied health (geriatric care), computer network support, electrical installation, and business administration,” Ms Hextall says.

    The IUC also offers occupational associate degrees in allied health, restaurant operations and logistics and supply chain management, which are workforce degrees.

    In November, the institution will graduate the second cohort of students, who have completed an occupational associate degree in restaurant operations.

    To matriculate, students must first sit a diagnostic test set by the HEART/NSTA Trust or have passes in one or more CSEC subjects.

    “These students enter certificate programmes (Level 2, NVQ-J) and on successful completion of this level, can gain entry to the diploma (Level 3, NVQ-J) or entry to the occupational associate degree programmes,” Ms. Hextall outlines.

    Students, however, who have passes in five CSEC subjects including English language and mathematics, have the option of direct entry to the occupational associate degree programmes.

    The certificate and diploma programmes are between six to nine months in duration, while the occupational associate degrees are offered over a four-semester or two-year period.

    Meanwhile, the university is engaging students in peace studies, through its Peace Institute and Extended Learning Centre (PIELC).

    All programmes offered at IUC will incorporate a peace-related course as part of the institution’s commitment to engendering peacemaking in its students.

    President Professor of the IUC, Professor Roderick Hewitt, tells JIS News that the institution’s focus is on “the linking of sustainable livelihoods to peace and wellness”.

    President of the International University of the Caribbean (IUC), Professor Roderick Hewitt, addressing a recent JIS Think Tank


    A central pillar of the work of the IUC PIELC is the wellness and resiliency programme, which involves partnerships with organisations that have been involved in such initiatives in communities over an extended period.

    The IUC President tells JIS News that several collaborations have been forged to ensure the efficacy of the programme, noting that courses are offered at both the degree and non-degree levels.

    “The community-based and degree programmes are seen as a critical part of the resiliency-building efforts. Thus, a wellness and resiliency component will also be included in select degrees programmes such as community development, guidance and counselling, and primary education at the bachelor’s level, and at the master’s degree level in consulting and counselling psychology. A key component will be research, where students will be required to do field research,” he discloses.

    The IUC prides itself as a community institution and has done extensive community development work in Hannah Town and the Greater Swallowfield area in Kingston.

    “Our work in communities is guided by an ethos of peacebuilding and of wellness and resiliency,” Ms. Hextall says.

    Several persons within these communities are granted scholarships to pursue education and training up to the degree level.

    Certification is also offered to persons who work in communities or are community leaders.

    This is intended to provide skills development in key areas of community organisation such as peacebuilding, community safety and security, building wellness and resiliency, disaster risk management for communities, youth development, advocacy, and project management.

    “The aim is to equip community leaders, and especially youth leaders, with the kind of skills that can be used to better manage a project and mobilise other persons to carry out the mandate of real community development,” Ms. Hextall explains.

    The IUC’s central campus is situated at 47 Old Hope, St. Andrew, with other campuses in Mandeville, Manchester; Denbigh, Clarendon; Montego Bay, St. James; Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, and Tower Isle, St. Mary.

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