UCCI entry levels lower than A-level school course

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The entrance requirement for
associate degree courses at the University College of the Cayman Islands is
lower than that for a local private school’s A-level programme, Minister of
Education Rolston Anglin revealed in a statement to the Legislative Assembly on
Wednesday.

Mr. Anglin said UCCI required its
associate degree students to have a minimum of three GCSE/IGCSE/CXC passes,
including English and Maths, while St. Ignatius’ entrance requirement for its
A-level matriculation programme was five IGCSE or CXC passes.

“Students are graduating with
degrees that barely make the grade,” Mr. Anglin said, adding that some were
finding it difficult to get employment due to their poor performance at
university.

Mr. Anglin made the comments in a
statement on the state of government education scholarships, which he described
as having been left in a “disaster” by his predecessor Alden McLaughlin. In an
earlier statement, the minister outlined a series of reforms his ministry and
UCCI president Roy Bodden were working on to try to improve standards at the university.

He described the scholarship awards
criteria as “incomplete and outdated” and that they had been “poorly
communicated and inconsistently followed”, adding that the Scholarship
Secretariat was underfunded and inadequately staffed.

“To address these sorts of
anomalies, my ministry, in conjunction with the Education Council, is implementing
eligibility criteria that is consistent across the range of scholarships
awarded,” Mr. Anglin said.

He said under the existing scheme,
new applicants were awarded scholarships based on acceptance into a local
institution and not necessarily by the criteria determined by the Education
Council or the Ministry of Education.

“This sometimes resulted in
students receiving scholarships when in fact they had not met scholarship
criteria,” Mr. Anglin said.

He added that “a significant
number” of students on local scholarships had consistently performed below the
level of standards required of scholarship recipients. “Yet, they continued to
be funded because they had not received any follow up or warning letters by the
ministry. This sets our young people up to fail,” he said.

The minister said the same was
true, to a lesser extent, of students on overseas scholarships because they had
not been adequately monitored by the ministry.

One person had been responsible for
administering scholarship awards to more than 700 students. “That was unfair to
her, unfair to our students and unfair to our taxpayers,” Mr. Anglin said in
his statement.

The Ministry of Education
established a Scholarship Services Review Committee to examine how to improve
the situation, the minister said. This committee, chaired by former permanent
secretary in the Ministry of Education, Joy Basdeo, submitted its report to the
Education Council in April.

Mr. Anglin said some of the
recommendations would be made immediately, while others would be implemented in
January 2011 for applicants beginning their studies in fall 2011.

Among the recommendations is the
addition of two staff members to the Scholarship Secretariat.

Based on the committee
recommendations, all local scholarship applications must now be sent to the
Secretary of the Education Council at the Ministry of Education. “This will
make the processing of local scholarship applications consistent with that in
place for overseas scholarships,” Mr. Anglin said.

He said there was a
“disproportionate cost of funding A-levels without much follow-up to establish
whether this money was well spent in terms of final examination results and
admission to tertiary education programmes.”

The cost of funding scholarships
for the 2009-10 academic year was $895,076, representing 80 per cent of the
fees charged by Cayman Prep and St. Ignatius, Mr. Anglin said, with the average
cost of funding two years of A-levels for one student being about $15,000.

The minister said government
schools would deliver the new Advanced Placement and International
Baccalaureate programmes at a fraction of the cost of A-level programmes, so
new protocols were being put in place for A-level scholarship funding and
standards. These would include linking the granting and continuation of
scholarships to academic results and achievements of UCCI and A-level students.

The Education Council will draw up
draft guidelines, which along with the report from the Scholarship Services
Review Committee, will be made available to the public and to focus groups for
consultation before the guidelines are developed into a policy document.

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UCCI entrance requirements are inconsistent with private school A-level programmes.
Photo: Norma Connolly
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2 COMMENTS

  1. This story contains incorrect information, students HAVE been sent warning letters about their grades and losing scholarships. You could do an foi request to find out the numbers but not the students names. These letters are on the student files. In most cases they were sent two letters, I know because I have friends who received them from UCCI in Spring 2008 and Fall 2008. The Ministry has had access to the student grades directly since Spring 2008 as well! Don’t mislead Rolston, let the country know that the government, past and previous didn’t have the guts to say "no" to Caymanians.

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  2. It’s a well-known fact among educators on the island that practically anyone (as long as they’re breathing and have a cheque in their hand) can get into UCCI. Graduates with a degree from UCCI are taken with a grain of salt. Well, I suppose it’s better than nothing. But UCCI needs to tighten up their standards — and stream people into "UPGRADING" courses prior to admitting into many of their programmes. Then, and only then, will a UCCI certificate mean something.

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