West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin brought up a good point in Finance Committee this week when he spoke of the benefits of Caymanians studying overseas.
Mr. Anglin said that Caymanians who finish their tertiary studies overseas are given more respect from their international peers as a result. He was therefore requesting that qualified Caymanians be offered scholarships overseas, at least for their final two years.
Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin said he does not support anything that would cause fewer students to attend the University College of the Cayman Islands, and noted that the quality of education offered here was good. He said that just because something is overseas does not make it better.
Mr. McLaughlin can speak from experience, having attended university here and having done extremely well for himself. But he was studying a specialised discipline at the Cayman Islands Law School, an advantage students of UCCI do not have. The business landscape has also changed considerably since Mr. McLaughlin graduated in 1988
In addition, we live in a world of perceptions, and often recent graduates’ tickets into the corporate world have more to do with perceptions than reality.
Regardless of whether the Government should pay for Caymanians to study abroad, Mr. Anglin offered a compelling argument that overseas study is a good thing for Caymanians, especially those pursuing specialised fields like finance.
There are intangibles to studying overseas that possibly even outweigh quality concerns. Mr. Anglin pointed out that the social development that takes place when studying overseas cannot be replicated here in Cayman.
He’s probably right.
Even though the Cayman Islands has people living here from more than 100 different countries, and tourists come all over the world, it is still a very small society.
Studying overseas offers Caymanians a chance to expand their minds in ways they simply cannot do here. Years ago, this kind of knowledge came to Cayman through its seamen, who travelled all over the world, learning as they called on far away ports.
With fewer and fewer young Caymanians choosing the sea for a career, it is important in today’s global economic world that our young people not become too insular in their viewpoints. Conducting things like international finance implicitly requires global thinking.
When studying overseas, Caymanians are immersed in a different culture, which requires adaptation and acceptance of new ideas. And, because they have to fend for themselves without the help of their parents to a certain degree, it also helps them mature, another thing that many young men did at sea in years past.
One way to get Caymanians through that much talked about glass ceiling is to make sure they see the world with a similar breadth as the people they’ll replace when they get there, and studying overseas is one way to ensure that.