Technology makes partnership possible
The University College of the Cayman Islands has entered into a partnership with West Chester University in Pennsylvania that will allow students of the universities to enroll in courses at both institutions.
UCCI President Roy Bodden called the partnership a “historic moment” for the university and said the future of higher education in the Cayman Islands will involve much greater use of technology to offer students access to courses from partner universities all over the world.
“This is the future,” he said. “The use of technology is evolving in education to the point where you can sit in the comfort of your kitchen or your living room and get a world-class education.”
The memorandum of agreement between UCCI and West Chester University will enable students in Cayman to enroll in courses at the American university, which caters to more than 16,000 students. The partnership involves a mix of online learning and student exchange as well as access to community internships.
Students at West Chester will also be able to enroll in courses delivered in Cayman.
“Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs – are giving students access to international institutions,” Mr. Bodden said. “You can get a university education without leaving the Cayman Islands.
“Technology is bringing accessibility which was hitherto not available. Can you imagine someone in Bodden Town or East End having access to West Chester University courses without leaving their home?”
He said both universities still had a role to play in facilitating courses and providing a support network to students, but that he expects future investment in higher education in the Cayman Islands to be on technology and on facilitating partnerships with reputable universities rather than bricks and mortar.
“One of the greatest advantages of such a collaboration will be for our government,” he said. “It will not be necessary to construct expensive edifices and buildings. Resources can be more effectively distributed by increasing the number of students who are in a position to take advantage of education through ICT [Information and Communication Technologies].” The practical details of the partnership are still being worked out and a team from the Cayman Islands will visit West Chester in March to discuss which courses can be offered to students at both locations.
Information and Communications Technology experts from West Chester will also be in Cayman next month to see what upgrades may be required to facilitate online courses.
The aim, said Mr. Bodden, is for Cayman students to be able to sit in a classroom at UCCI and participate fully in a course at West Chester, starting in the 2016/17 academic year.
Dr. Greg Weisenstein, president of West Chester University, who was the keynote speaker last week at UCCI’s commencement ceremony, said the agreement would be mutually beneficial and would also involve student exchanges and access to internships in Pennsylvania and Cayman for both sets of students.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for West Chester to work with a very fine institution here in the Cayman Islands,” he said. “I can’t imagine our students not wanting to come here, not just for the educational experiences, but in the middle of winter when it is a whole lot colder in Pennsylvania than it is in Cayman.”