Caymanian students not treated equally by UK

I am a 17-year-old Caymanian student currently attending a local British-patterned high school. As young Caymanians, we are often forced to look abroad for our tertiary education, as despite the facilities provided by institutions the University College of the Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Further Education Centre and the Truman Bodden Law School, often more niche degree programmes cannot be found locally.

As such, it is greatly upsetting to realise that in looking to our mother country for this education, we are snubbed and excluded from a great many opportunities.

Whilst it is possible for Caymanians to receive home student rates in the UK, the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) makes it quite difficult for us to enter this option. Even with these home rates, we are subjected to earlier deadlines and copious amounts of tedious paperwork in our applications, with a friend of mine having to recently cancel their application to a British university on the basis that she could not sit a mandatory English-proficiency test.

The only reason for this was that we do not have any local centres for this test, given we all speak English. This same friend achieved an A* (the highest possible grade) at GCSE First Language English, a British qualification, over a year ago. Why is it that we are treated so differently to other British students?

Though we don’t live in Great Britain, our language, legal system and identity are English. We chant ‘God Save the Queen’ just as her other subjects do, yet we are somehow different. Our GCSEs and A-Levels are just as difficult, and in some cases more so, than their British counterparts.

We hold British passports, yet we are faced with a very clear message. We are not British. We are not seen as ‘actually British’, which leaves the Caymanian student to feel isolated, cut off from the opportunities of higher education, as the steep fees in the United States and Canada are often too much for many families to bear. Though our government is diligent in awarding scholarships to bright young Caymanians, the message from the institutions is clear.

To our governor and government, I am proudly British, so why am I a second-rate citizen?

Aiden Watler

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you that’s it’s absurd that one should be asked to take an English language test when that’s our language.

    I think our government is very smart to be helping to provide tertiary educational opportunities overseas.

    But the UK is not alone in having bizarre regulations. Right here in Cayman a doctor fully qualified in another first world country cannot practice here without passing local exams. This may make sense for a lawyer. But human bodies are pretty much the same worldwide and have the same organs in the same places.

  2. Dear Aiden, We are sorry to read of your experiences, particularly as a proud British Caymanian wishing to go to the UK. We wanted to let you know about a Caymanian not for profit network in the UK – Cayman Connection – which is supported by the Cayman Islands Government Office in the UK (CIGOUK) to assist Caymanians overseas. The CIGOUK and Cayman Connection can assist students with issues relating to entry into UK universities, and would be happy to be in touch with you, and it might be useful to share your experiences with us. As a community we will have a louder voice for you, and would like to help you to address some of the concerns you have. We have quite a large student membership and it may be an opportunity for you to reach out to fellow Caymanians in the UK, and also to keep in close contact with the CIGO in London. We host weekly Community Zoom Calls (called “Virtual Yard Meetings”) for Caymanians overseas every Wednesday at 5pm UK time, 12 midday Cayman time, if you would like to join in and share any concerns or issues. We also have a Cayman Connection UK alumni group on island in Grand Cayman who would happily meet with you if it would be helpful, all CCUK alumni have been through tertiary education in the UK and have had a very good experience, equally they will understand your position. Please do register with us – at http://www.caymanconnection.org/signup or get in touch at [email protected] – we’re here to help.