Few Caribbean institutions have gone through a full accreditation process – Pro Vice-Chancellor
October 31, 2014
Few Caribbean institutions have gone through a full accreditation process – Pro Vice-Chancellor

Very few educational institutions in the Caribbean have gone through a full accreditation process, as institutional accreditation is a relatively new concept in the Caribbean.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Alan Cobley, in an interview last week, said as far as he is aware, none of the community colleges in the Eastern Caribbean are accredited.{{more}}

Cobley made the disclosure while being interviewed by Tony Regisford of IKTV.

“With respect to institutional accreditation, that is actually a relatively new concept in the Caribbean and, in fact, few institutions have gone through a full accreditation process,” he said.

The professor said it was only in 2009/2010 that the UWI decided that it would undergo institutional accreditation and it is now fully accredited in all of its major jurisdictions – Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. That process, he said, was completed in 2013.

He said in not being accredited, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) is not unique.

“We are actually the first regional institution to do that and very few institutions are actually accredited in the Caribbean. So, the college in St Vincent is by no means unique in that regard. As far as I am aware, none of the community colleges in the Eastern Caribbean are accredited as yet,” Cobley said.

Cobley, however, said it is correct to say that although the SVGCC is not accredited, the UWI recognizes the associate degree programmes of the SVGCC for matriculation into the UWI.

He said advanced standing, which means that students are given credits and exemptions from the degree programme, is granted to those programmes which have been assessed by the university for that purpose.

In the case of the SVGCC, he said, a number of degrees have been assessed and have been given advanced placement under certain conditions.

Among the associate degree programmes for which advanced placement is given is the associate degree in education, which allows students advanced placement in the Bachelor of Education programme. Students holding an associate degree in education from the SVGCC get advanced standing and credits from level one and can move directly into level two.

Thirty-six students from the SVGCC are presently pursuing the UWI BEd degree programme, having advanced from the associate degree, Cobley said.

The pro vice-chancellor also said that persons who hold associate degrees in hospitality, psychology or business will also be granted advanced standing into degree programmes, once they meet the appropriate qualifications.

Using the example of the associate degree in hospitality, Cobley said to get direct entry into the hospitality degree programme, a grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 in the associate degree is required.

Cobley said that for a number of years, the SVGCC has franchised the university’s level one programme in social sciences.

“What that means is students do the level one programme in St Vincent at the college, then can proceed to one of our campuses, directly into level two.”

He said at present, there are 16 students who came through the level one franchise in St Vincent and are presently pursuing degree programmes at one of the campuses.

“I can tell you that currently, we have over 550 students from St Vincent and the Grenadines doing degree programmes (undergraduate and graduate) on our four campuses. Of that, 281 are in the Open Campus, 129 at Cave Hill, 142 at St Augustine and 53 at Mona.

“I cannot tell you how many of those students came directly from the Community College, but I believe it is a significant proportion of those.”

Cobley, however, said he did not have the break-down to say how many of those presently at university came through the associate degree route, but at Cave Hill, of the 114 Vincentians in undergraduate programmes, 22 got advanced standing from associate degrees.

He said in terms of sheer numbers, SVG is perhaps the best represented of all the OECS countries at UWI.

“That is an impressive showing. In terms of how they perform, the figure I have for Cave Hill last year, … we had over 80 students from SVG graduate in the last two years.”

Cobley said from looking at the numbers, the students overall from the OECS are doing “extremely well, and that includes the students from St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Professor Cobley has responsibility for all aspects of undergraduate study, from matriculation to graduation; quality assurance across the university, both undergraduate and graduate; responsibility for regionality, which means that he has responsibility for ensuring that the university stays as one regional university.