Air-conditioning bills at the International College of the Cayman Islands may be a bit higher than usual in the coming months, but that’s not because of rising temperatures or electricity rates.
It’s because of rising standards.
New ICCI president David Marshall has put government scholarship students on notice that if they aren’t making their grades, they will be required to attend tutoring sessions on weekends. Additionally, ICCI is now mandating that students attend at least 85 percent of their classes.
When Mr. Marshall arrived in Grand Cayman this spring from his previous academic post in Chicago, this Editorial Board applauded his verbal commitment to elevating standards at ICCI. At the time, he said, “If [students] have not met the criteria, they are not going to graduate. It could take 10 years to get a four-year degree, but we are not going to let them out. If we let them out the door without the skills to be successful, we have let them down … I promise you when those students do graduate, they will be comparable with the best on the planet.”
Now we are pleased to lend our support not just to Mr. Marshall’s pronouncements, but to his actions.
Just as the wind traverses the ocean to give Seven Mile Beach patrons a breath of fresh air, oftentimes it takes the perspective of someone from overseas to revitalize our insular institutions.
Mr. Marshall seems a bit tough — mandatory tutoring, minimum attendance, shifting staff hours to coincide with students’ schedules, requiring government scholarship students to sign “learning contracts” and create “learning plans.”
It seems his toughness has already led to the attrition of a couple of staffers and a score of students. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The new president is sending a message: If you’re not on board with his vision, then you’re not going along for the ride.
Mr. Marshall may be tough, but he’s not punitive. “It is not about punishing students; it is about being accountable to them and to the public, who are paying for their education,” he said.
We’ll add, it’s about preparing students for the realities of working life.
The Cayman employment pool can be divided into three categories:
- Qualified Caymanians
- Qualified non-Caymanians
- Unqualified Caymanians
When Cayman businesses are looking for an employee, they have three options:
- Find a qualified Caymanian.
- If there is no qualified Caymanian, obtain a work permit for a qualified expatriate.
- If a work permit cannot be obtained, outsource the job off-island.
Note that for most businesses, hiring an unqualified person, of any nationality, is not a viable option.
Mr. Marshall appears to be fully cognizant of that reality, and his tough policies of personal empowerment are reflective of that.
Education Minister Tara Rivers is among those supporting Mr. Marshall’s plans, remarking on her Twitter account: “I applaud [Mr. Marshall] for his #NoExcusesJustSolutions approach to education!”
At the risk of sounding circular, if Minister Rivers applauds Mr. Marshall for his stance, we, in turn, applaud her for hers.
Others are taking notice, too, particularly local business leaders. When future ICCI graduates arrive for job interviews, employers will be inclined to look upon them favorably — because their degrees will actually carry with them the presumption of academic achievement.