University College of the Cayman Islands President Roy Bodden believes the country’s adult population is an untapped resource for college study.
“I was always interested in growing the numbers of the institution,” Mr. Bodden said, noting that enrollment in recent years has plateaued at about 1,200 students, almost all of whom are in their late teens or early 20s.
Recently, he said, he was at a conference when he heard Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education, talking about adult learning.
“I said, ‘Voilà!’” Mr. Bodden said.
Ms. Blumenstyk will be the keynote speaker on Nov. 29, when UCCI hosts a “soft launch” of its Prior Learning Assessment program. Mr. Bodden said he expects the school will soon begin evaluating and accepting students for the program, with the first courses beginning in fall 2019.
The new program is designed to give adults with experience in the working world a leg up on pursuing or completing a college degree. Program administrators will grant prospective students with appropriate work experience course credit toward a degree, thus shortening the time it takes to graduate.
Geared toward working students, the program could boost enrollment at the campus by 10-15 percent, Mr. Bodden said. It will offer opportunities for those who may not have had the chance or inclination for college study to earn a degree, he said.
“If you speak to the adults here, they feel uncomfortable sitting in classes with high school leavers,” he said. “But they’re quite comfortable sitting in class with their peers.”
The initial course offerings are expected to be limited to business studies. Mr. Bodden said students will be assessed individually.
“Someone who’s been working in a middle manager position for 10 to 15 years, with no credit other than a high school leaving certificate, they must know something about managing, bookkeeping, accounting or other things,” he said.
Those skills would potentially translate into college credit, he added, allowing the individual to complete a degree in a shorter time frame. Such a degree, he said, might allow some workers to advance on pay schedules. Others might find a degree provides better job security or new opportunities.
Mr. Bodden, who is stepping down from his position at the end of the year, said he is confident the program will move forward and will eventually expand beyond business degrees.
“We’re going to explore other areas as well,” he said. “But we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew.”
The launch event is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Johnson Hall. For additional information, email [email protected]