JIS News

State Minister for Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd, has said that the government remained committed to increasing access to higher education as part of the process of national development.
“Higher education is essential to national development. It is that which fosters national cultural values and provide educational opportunities for all citizens, rich or poor,” he stated.
Dr. Rhodd, who was speaking at the launch of the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) Distance Education and Global Learning Pilot Project yesterday (Nov.3) at the UCC’s Worthington Avenue campus, said that the number of students entering the tertiary sector had grown over the years.
He noted that rapid increases in personal mobility, access to knowledge across borders, growing worldwide investment and the increased need of adults for continuing education, had expanded the market for higher education and increased competition in the sector. “The competition is no longer only from local universities but also from foreign universities,” he pointed out.
He said that to remain viable, institutions have been forced to reform their programmes and cut costs, while becoming more student focused.
Dr. Rhodd noted that while the government welcomed the influx of overseas-based tertiary institutions, care must be taken that the standard of learning being provided was of the highest quality.
“In some instances, unrestricted access in the higher education sector will open the door to foreign diploma mills and providers of questionable quality. This we cannot afford,” Dr. Rhodd said. “We must maintain the traditional high qualities and standards in our institutions,” he added.
The Education State Minister said that while it was important to recognize that this level of growth would continue even more rapidly over the next few years, it was equally important that “we also acknowledge what such growth bring with it”.
As of March next year students of the UCC will be able to access tertiary education in the comfort of their homes, offices or wherever there is a television set or internet access. This innovation in distance learning will make the UCC the first tertiary education institution in the island and the Caribbean to utilize a hybrid model in content delivery, which enables students to take courses via free- to- air television, wireless cable television and traditional classroom facilities.
The project, which is a partnership involving the UCC, CVM Television, and DC Digital, offers an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration and the upper level of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Business administration. It has been designed in response to the growing number of adults, who are eager to earn college degrees but who require more flexibility than traditional on-campus courses allows.
A 24-hour educational channel will be established to deliver UCC modules and degree programmes filmed at the college and coordinated for delivery through a wireless cable provider by way of live or delayed broadcasts at specific times. A schedule will be provided so that students can see re-broadcasts if they missed the original lecture. The college will offer a three-year distance education pilot programme delivered via DC Digital’s wireless satellite cable network, CVM TV’s free to air broadcast network and the UCC’s classroom facilities.
In addition, the UCC Foundation has established a permanent annual scholarship worth $36 million, offering 180 full tuition based scholarships for students enrolled in the programme.

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