After several years of failed efforts to create a merger between the University College of the Cayman Islands and the International College of the Cayman Islands, UCCI officials are proposing a different mechanism that would allow for greater cooperation between the two schools.
On Tuesday, the UCCI Board of Governors administrative and academic committee agreed to move forward with a proposed federation agreement that would enable the two colleges to collaborate on course offerings and to seek international accreditation as a single entity, among other things. The agreement will be on the UCCI board’s agenda when it meets Jan. 31.
If approved, the agreement would be taken up by ICCI’s Board of Trustees.
UCCI board member Tom Simpson said ICCI has been working with the Ministry of Education and the Cabinet for two years on a merger between the two schools.
“They haven’t been able to move it forward,” Mr. Simpson said. “Their proposal requires Cabinet action and legislative changes.”
Most of what the two schools were looking for in such an agreement, he said, could be covered in a federation agreement, a tool commonly used by colleges and universities in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. UCCI’s governing board has authority to pursue such an agreement on its own.
“We said, ‘Let’s get on with it,’” Mr. Simpson said.
The objectives of the proposal include increased cooperation on course offerings to “better address the community and business, educational and training needs of the Cayman Islands,” producing more qualified graduates, improving educational standards by achieving international accreditation and reducing overall costs.
“ICCI has made previous proposals to our board and some of this is lifted from their proposal,” Mr. Simpson said.
Mike Mannisto, chair of ICCI’s Board of Trustees, is traveling in Asia and was not available for comment.
UCCI board chairman Lemuel Hurlston said talk of merging the two colleges goes back more than a decade, well beyond the most recent efforts. He said the impact of such an agreement would go beyond the two schools, benefiting the community and the local economy.
“It’s not so much what it will do for UCCI,” Mr. Hurlston said, “it’s what it will do for the Cayman Islands. It will get the maximum use of all of our resources.”
Mr. Simpson said the joint venture would improve both schools.
“The main thing is the synergy from working together,” Mr. Simpson said, “the money saved, and the coordination of activity.”
Duplicate courses would be eliminated, he said. Under the proposal, ICCI would switch to a semester system. Students of that school would take their general education courses in English and math at UCCI. A single academic senate, comprised of faculty at both schools, would oversee the quality of the curriculum. And the two entities would work together on achieving accreditation.
The proposed seven-year agreement is less of a commitment than a permanent merger would be, Mr. Simpson said, which he called a “risky thing.”
“It might not work out,” he said. “This allows us to take baby steps. It if doesn’t work out, we can go our separate ways.”