West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin said the Cayman Islands Government should adopt a the system of offering two-year scholarships to qualified Caymanians studying specialised fields such as finance.
Mr. Anglin brought up the topic in Finance Committee dealing with the 2006/07 Budget during question of appropriations of the Ministry of Education.
‘Having an international degree in finance – my profession – is of great benefit, I can tell you, when you’re dealing with large reputable international clients,’ he said.
People with overseas degrees from top colleges or universities in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, particularly in the field of finance, are taken more seriously, Mr. Anglin said.
Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin said he would not subscribe to a policy that caused fewer and fewer students to attend the University College of the Cayman Islands.
‘If that were the case, we might as well close the Law School and close UCCI,’ he said.
Mr. McLaughlin said UCCI was better than some overseas colleges.
‘Just because it’s overseas, doesn’t make it better.’
Speaking to the Caymanian Compass outside the Finance Committee Chamber, Mr. Anglin said there were more benefits for Caymanians to study overseas than just the perception of quality.
‘My concern isn’t the quality of the education at UCCI per se,’ he said, noting that when it was known as ICCI and only offered two-year Associate’s Degrees, those degrees were highly regarded at overseas’ universities when graduates applied to continue their education.
‘Studying overseas also contributes to the social growth of our people,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin said that because Cayman is a small, closed environment, attending university only here could restrict students’ personal growth.
‘This is a damn small country,’ he said. ‘When you come from a small society, your mind tends not to be as open as those who live in larger areas. Caymanian students that study overseas have to immerse themselves in another culture, to mix as a minority with people from all over the world, and have to learn to take care of themselves in a dormitory setting, all of which helps students mature.
‘That sort of personal growth can’t be replicated in Cayman,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin said it is also usually more difficult to study when a student is living at home. Noise and family distractions often occur, even when the intentions are that they should not.
‘I can tell the world that I wouldn’t have done as well in school if I was living at home,’ he said.
Caymanian students who study overseas are also able to see things from a more global perspective, which is very important in the globalised world of international finance, Mr. Anglin said.
A graduate of Ohio State University, Mr. Anglin said he was automatically given more respect from his international peers in finance as a result.
‘Finance is a lot different than law because in finance you have to interact a lot more with your peers from other jurisdictions,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin also said the Cayman Islands Law School is different from UCCI in that it offers a degree in a specific discipline, whereas UCCI is a multi-faceted institution.
One telling point of the value of a UCCI education was whether students were coming from overseas to study here, as they do at the Law School and the St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine.
‘Why would an American leave the US to come to UCCI? If you focused it on specific disciplines, and had a specific draw, it would be viable.’
Mr. Anglin said the Cayman Islands government used to offer two-year scholarships to qualified Caymanian students, but that ended under the previous Education Minister Roy Bodden, partially because of financial reasons, and partially because they were trying to build up UCCI.
The two years here, two years away policy worked well in Mr. Anglin’s opinion, and he thinks the Cayman Islands Government should go back to that policy.
‘The option should be there [for students who want to go away for two years],’ he said.