2008-07-09

Bermuda supporting U.W.I. education

This is quite interesting to me, as a U.W.I. graduate, to read that Government will contribute to the University of the West Indies and allow for Bermudian students to only pay about 20% of the cost.

Vexed Bermoothes has already weighed in, and I know that this will be a well-discussed item over the next couple of days. I do believe that there is a trend in Bermuda to label Caribbean products as inferior, and that extends to education; I have no such delusions. U.W.I. as a tertiary institution of learning offers a variety of quality programmes that can produce a graduate with skills on par or above that of most universities. Medicine, law, agriculture, economics, chemistry, languages, you name it.

That said, I can see the concerns that why is the Government funding a specific university instead of funding students who are pursuing tertiary education regardless of the chosen school. I think that's the specific argument of V.B., and that it's a movement to integrate Bermuda more closely with CARICOM, which again is looked down upon by many people here.

When I was in high school, about to take GCSEs, we had all kinds of brochures delivered to us. Acadia and Dalhousie and Mt. St. Vincent. American colleges in Georgia and Maryland. Even Southern Cal. Why wasn't U.W.I. an option? Inferiority presumption? Even though the cultural shift may in some aspects have been easier for students to deal with?

9 comments:

Alex said...

My personal opinion is quite simple. If we had financial control in the government then it's quite likely that we would be able to fund each and every Bermudian with a financial need to be able to attend any accredited school.

Including UWI.

Faith Based Tourism alone cost us 16 student-years of college (at $25k per year).

ms cute pants said...

Interesting! I had no idea Bermuda looked down on Carribean education. Why? Bermuda's is not necessarily good. The english that is taught in Bermuda's schools today is nothing to feel superior about. They should take a look at that first - an effort to integrate the Queen's english into the curriculum, instead of the bastardized version of American english.

Renaissance Man said...

There's nothing wrong at all with UWI. I have worked and studied with many students and faculty from there. They meet accreditation for their engineering programs already from the ABET, which is my background. I believe that their medical programs for doctors and nurses are also accredited.

Sadly, and as a Bermuda College graduate it pains me to say, our own College is lacking in accreditation.

I do confess, I never would have thought of UWI until after being in Canada for several severe winters. We just weren't exposed to them as an option for study, it was all Canadian, US, and UK schools. Now, the Canadian standard is exceptional, but since the UWI is also accredited, it at least meets the necessary standards.

I am in favour of this for an option for our students. The only downsides I see are trouble with getting flights to the region, and a lack of choices for the students. However, if it meets your chosen major, go for it. Might as well have some educated Bermudians somehow.

bdalongtail said...

What I don't understand is that if they are going to back UWI then why don't they try and convert the Bermuda College into another UWI campus? At least then we are offering an accredited program to Bermudians at home that might need to work to put themselves through school and can't afford the travel and boarding.

As Renaissance Man points out the Canadian standards are exceptional - so why didn't the government opt to try and partner with a Canadian university. There are boat loads of Bermudians that go to Canada universities. I believe at one time the Bermuda College had an affiliation with Queen's University for Masters education - what happened to that??

Renaissance Man said...

Actually, I have pushed several times for the College to adopt the Open University program from the UK. http://www.open.ac.uk/

Open University offers distance learning, and is geared towards those who do not have the time to take off for traditional education. It offers everything from most traditional degree programs to continuing professional development and graduate programs. It is certainly NOT an easy way out, if anything it is far more difficult than full-time study. All programs are the same as at any UK or other EU university, are fully accredited, and are accepted everywhere.

If the College would just get certified as a test centre, then this would open up even more opportunities for local students, particularly mature ones.

To further bdalongtail's comments, the College did have several partnerships with various overseas institutions, for law, nursing, business, and education. I believe these are still in place today. You can see the current list at http://www.bercol.bm/overseas_partners.htm

Interesting idea for the UWI campus here. I think that mightn't be a bad idea. There would have to be a whole lot of changes here first, though. And what would the curriculum be? We can't do much other than business. Anyone wanting to do technical degrees would have to go to Trinidad instead.

I do confess, I have a slight Canadian bias for their extremely high standards. Partnering with them might make more sense long term. After all, shouldn't we have the best?

Now if we could only fix the K-12 system...

Tryangle said...

And really, Bermuda ought to be pushing for upping Bermuda College (free courses is one thing, but much more is needed), and more importantly having high school graduates be prepared and able to qualify for university. Increasing the leaving age from 16 to 18 isn't any guarantee of anything.

bdalongtail said...

Completely agree - high school needs to be fixed first. Latest Berkeley graduation numbers aren't that promising:

13/100 graduate with honours
25/100 going on for further education (while the rest enter the workforce).

The Ministry has yet to release figures from Cedarbridge, but if we extrapolate out based on the Berkeley figures it isn't looking good. Bermudians wonder why they aren't obtaining top jobs in international business - it's simple lack of education. There are a few businesses that I know of that have started educated new hires the basics - stuff that should have been taught in high school. These people have a high school diploma - there is clearly something going wrong here...

but is there? Would government really be able to pull off all the smoke and mirrors if more Bermudians were better educated? It all ties together...

Renaissance Man said...

The ONLY countries with English as the main language that seems to rate well with the OECD are Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada is the most consistent.

http://www.oecd.org/document/28/0,3343,fr_2649_34487_34010524_1_1_1_1,00.html

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/1/60/34002216.pdf

Now, we can't use the UK because of colonial ties, we can't choose Australia or New Zealand because some bigoted white people left Bermuda in the early 60s to go there to escape local school integration, so Canada is the only logical choice.

Anonymous said...

"When I was in high school, about to take GCSEs, we had all kinds of brochures delivered to us. Acadia and Dalhousie and Mt. St. Vincent. American colleges in Georgia and Maryland. Even Southern Cal. Why wasn't U.W.I. an option?"

It doesn't have to be some sort of grand conspiracy. It could be as simple as UWI didn't come to Bermuda to visit the schools.

In addition to the school fairs where many of the colleges visit, representatives of various colleges visit the schools on the island. That includes schools that do not attend the fairs but only visit the high schools.

If UWI didn't attend the fairs and/or visit the high schools there would be no brochures and no-one in Bermuda would be encouraged to attend.