Statement by the Hon. Minister of Education
To the House of Representatives
Mr. Speaker, I have tabled in the House a Ministry Paper outlining interim measures being implemented by the Government to regulate the tertiary education sector.
Globally, tertiary education represents the fastest growing service sector, with the potential for significant foreign exchange earnings. In Jamaica the sector has been experiencing rapid expansion with the entrance to the domestic market of new local institutions or affiliates of universities based abroad.
In this regard, the Government has sought to encourage growth in the sector but in an orderly manner. This is in keeping with the Vision 2030 goal of promoting tertiary education as not only a primary development but as a catalyst for national development.
The University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) performs the function of external quality assurance by means of accrediting programmes and institutions.
However, international best practices dictate a separation between regulation and oversight of the tertiary sector on the one hand, and the accreditation of tertiary programmes and institutions on the other.
Oversight and regulation of the tertiary sector is the responsibility of the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC), which will be a statutory body under the Education Act. The Commission’s mandate includes the establishment of internal quality standards for tertiary level institutions (TLIs) operating in Jamaica.
NATIONAL REGISTRY OF TERTIARY LEVEL INSTITUTIONS
As a part of interim measures towards the introduction of a new regulatory regime for the tertiary sector to be administered by J-TEC, the Ministry of Education is establishing a National Registry of Institutions offering tertiary education.
By way of this policy, the Ministry is inviting all new and existing private tertiary level institutions to register with J-TEC.
This decision is in keeping with the General Powers conferred on the Minister of Education under Part II Section 3 (b) of the Education Act, “to frame an educational policy designed to provide a varied and comprehensive educational service in Jamaica”.
These interim measures will remain in place until the enactment of the J-TEC Act, giving the entity the authority to ensure the mandatory registration of all tertiary level institutions, among its other functions.
J-TEC is also implementing other measures necessary for the seamless introduction of the new regulatory regime for the tertiary sector including the development of:
- The National Qualification’s Framework for Jamaica “to ensure that all training programmes in Jamaica conform to established standards and are clearly located in relation to each other and maintain global standards”.
- Standards for institutional registration of tertiary level institutions; and
- A robust information management system
OUTCOMES AND BENEFITS TO BE DERIVED
The benefits to be derived from the implementation of these regulatory measures include:
- A gate-keeper for entry into the tertiary sector in Jamaica and improved co-ordination of the tertiary sector
- Availability of accurate information on tertiary institutions operating in Jamaica to enable planning, development and improved co-ordination of the tertiary sector
- A standards – driven internal quality assurance mechanism for all TLIs operating in Jamaica, thus ensuring internationally competitive quality of all programme offerings by institutions
- Enhanced protection of consumers of tertiary educational service, including parents and students
- Improved protection of those seeking to invest in tertiary education in Jamaica
The establishment of the Register and the registration of TLIs by J-TEC, operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, should result in an improved quality of tertiary level programmes being offered in Jamaica pending the introduction of the new regulatory regime for the Tertiary Sector under the J-TEC Act.