The University College of the Cayman Islands made history in 2008 with an unprecedented initiative establishing a satellite campus in Cayman Brac.
The extension of the university has enabled people of the Sister Islands to pursue tertiary education opportunities, while catering to the needs of high school graduates and adult residents already in the workforce. The facility also offers preparation for transfer to overseas universities and provides technical and vocational courses that empower students to achieve their higher learning goals.
“We currently have some 31 students enrolled in the associate degree programmes, ranging in age from 17 to 40-plus, most in their late teens,” said Martin Keeley, Cayman Brac campus director.
Mr. Keeley said there are two full-time employees at the school, including himself and the Assistant Registrar Shavon Bodden. Mr. Keeley said between six and eight adjunct faculty supplement the needs on campus.
Due to class sizes on Cayman Brac, many lessons are conducted using a real-time-interactive and direct feed video-link with classes conducted in Grand Cayman. Two classrooms on the Brac campus are dedicated to this, allowing most associate degree programmes in the Cayman Islands to be available on Cayman Brac.
The most popular of these are business and office administration, accounting and social studies, according to school officials.
“We are hoping to be able to offer degree courses in the near future,” said Mr. Keeley, who said the Brac campus also offers teachers aid courses, as well as specialised certification in business law.
This spring will see the introduction of an electrical engineering course.
The Civil Service College offers courses to employees of government entities on Cayman Brac. These vary from communications in business to introduction to computers and Spanish for beginners. CXC offerings are expected to be expanded.
Continuing Education programmes at the Brac campus range from getting CXC’s in math, English and general biology, to swimming, conversational French, as well as English as a second language.
“This programme tends to evolve year to year and often with new and interesting courses available for the community,” Mr. Keeley said. “Local demand also can initiate new ones.
“We are open to everyone living on the Brac, no matter what their nationality and many students are provided with government scholarships if a high grade-point average is maintained,” he said. “Others pay for their classes directly and payment plans can be worked out to help, though there are no student loans available.”
A marine science course is expected to begin next fall. With that in mind, UCCI officials are hoping to find funding to build a science lab on the campus, in addition to obtaining the resources to set up a third classroom video-link in one of the labs in Grand Cayman to facilitate further opportunities on Cayman Brac.
“Many of the younger students aged 16 to 17 are not ready to leave the Islands to continue their studies overseas. We give them the chance to learn self-directed study at the same time as maturing to be able to handle the culture of a mega-university,” Mr. Keeley said.
He said many from older generations have never had the chance to earn a degree.
“But now they can,” he said.
In addition, those who work for the government and government agencies may earn a degree through the civil service college programmes available on the Brac.
History was made this year, when five students from the Brac campus joined about 200 graduates from the main campus in Grand Cayman to receive their degrees at the UCCI 2011 commencement ceremony. Three of those five graduated with associate degrees, a first for the Brac campus.
Under the leadership of University President Roy Bodden, UCCI has strengthened its commitment to the students of Cayman Brac by providing a better campus and seeking to improve facilities by working with the Ministry of Education and the greater community.
The Cayman Brac campus has six classrooms, as well as a library, student lounge, board room and a computer lab. The computer lab was enhanced earlier this year with four state-of-the-art computers donated by Maples and Calder.