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?