The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made a grant of just over JA$1,000,000 (roughly TT$70,000) to support the University Consortium of Small Island States (UCSIS) to develop a joint degree programme to be offered by the five members of the consortium: The University of the West Indies, The University of the South Pacific, The University of the Virgin Islands, The University of Malta and The University of Mauritius.
The purpose of the joint degree programme is to provide practical, high quality education, research and development and outreach to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in order to enhance their capacity to implement the Barbados Programme of Action in support of the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The UNESCO-funded project will develop a catalogue of existing graduate courses offered by the Consortium, focusing on those which are most relevant to the major development issues facing Island States and indicating which would be most suitable for inclusion in an integrated cross-campus Masters degree programme. When the joint degree is completely developed it will be possible for students to read for a degree that comprises courses offered in different institutions, so that students in Malta or Mauritius, for example, could take courses offered by The UWI as part of their degree; while UWI students will be able to add courses offered by any of the other universities in the Consortium to their degree.
The result will be a more flexible approach to higher education, richer examples and teaching from several different cultural contexts, and cost effectiveness because the universities in the Consortium can avoid developing duplicate courses. According to UCSIS, improvements in technology and the increase in the use of distance teaching make it more feasible for people in remote areas to take University programmes. Distance and flexible teaching is also very convenient for employed people who want to continue their education. Allowing students from member Universities to take courses offered by other Universities is not only feasible, but critical to building the capacity of small island developing countries, UCSIS says.
In addition to the joint accreditation, UCSIS objectives are to cooperate in curriculum development, research, indigenous knowledge management and outreach in the key areas of sustainable development of SIDS; share research findings and reference materials; develop curricula relevant to island development and improve information flow among Members on courses, facilities and student needs. The Secretariat of the Consortium is on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
Further information is available at the UCSIS ( 876 977 5530) or through the coordinator, Dr. David Smith at email@example.com. (Reported from
UWI, Mona website)