Although the cost of foreign scholarships relative to the cost of local studies is enormous, the benefits are incalculable. Apart from exposing the students to top-notch faculty and diverse, ultra-competitive students, top foreign universities provide formidable alumni, a lifetime resource for its students. Concomitant to these benefits are ‘signalling effects’.
Candidly, the previous writers presented valid points that need not be refuted, rather we could explore a curious perspective that will expand the purview of our thought and present the people of the Cayman Islands a plethora of options rather than fixate their minds to limited alternatives.
The top universities in the UK, Canada and the US have track records of excellence. Most are head heading grounds for cutting edge companies like Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, etc. because not only do they attract high calibre students and erudite faculty, they also provide an atmosphere to sustain that momentum. Standards are extremely high. Competition amongst students and faculty for stellar grades and for groundbreaking research respectively are fierce because innovation fuelled by knowledge is what drives such institutions and makes them continuous breeding grounds for razor sharp professionals.
More often, the attendant academic rigor and intensity almost precludes an ambitious student from engaging in paid work activities and restricts his/her social commitments (including family issues). Recruiters and companies know this.
Empirically however, seeds are never made from shafts, so these universities undeniably strive spartanly to attract the brightest students from every nook and cranny of the globe. They go as far as delegating their representatives to different countries annually to scout for ‘tomorrow’s Einsteins’. While these universities avail of that opportunity to attract several international students whose parents and governments would ultimately defray their educational costs, students who stand out by virtue of their data points (high SAT scores and exquisite essays or excellent CXC results) are granted some sort of financial aid ranging from partial scholarships, tuition waivers to full scholarship, ironically funded by way of tuition fees by the parents and government of students with low to abysmal scores. Devoid of race, nationality, gender or creed, the selection process of these institutions pays close scrutiny to these data points and targets students with decent rather than stellar scores.
In light of the foregoing, it is unfortunate to think that foreign education cannot be free. Of course it can. The full burden could actually be passed on to these universities. We just need to proactively and adequately prepare and motivate our high school graduates by recruiting the best teachers there are, and equipping them for this global race. In the end, we will have the majority of these students excel in these examinations and be wooed with scholarships rather than have the Cayman Government pay for other students’ education.