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Open Campus offers second chance

Tony Best

Open Campus offers second chance

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It’s something of a new “frontier” for the University of the West Indies (UWI) – the tens of thousands of mature adults who are eager and capable of doing university work but don’t possess the qualifications to enter the classroom as matriculated students.
Now, that large population is being targeted by the Caribbean’s premier tertiary level educational institution, which wants the older Bajans and other West Indians who left secondary school decades ago without possessing a single Caribbean Examinations Council certificate to seek admission to its classrooms and work toward a degree.
“I see this as a new frontier for the UWI,” said Professor Nigel Harris, the university’s vice chancellor, who told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY in New York that the adults in the Caribbean were now able to pursue their dreams of getting a university education and ultimately a degree by turning to the UWI’s Open Campus with headquarters in Barbados.
“The traditional campuses such as Mona, St Augustine and Cave Hill may not be able to do it quite as much but it is the Open Campus that’s really reaching out and striking out in that direction,” explained Harris. “The Open Campus is really moving out to address the needs of that market, that population. We have a large number of people who have 30 to 40 years of their working life left and one can’t simply abandon them.
“The Caribbean has these who left high school with no certification, but now they want a second bite of the education apple to better themselves,” he said. “What the Open Campus enables them to do is take courses over a period of time. There are certificate programmes in accounting, marketing and so on and these would all count towards your matriculation requirements. You may even get a few credits towards a degree.”
Harris, who was in New York for the annual gala of the American Foundation for the UWI, said that the Open Campus would recognise lifetime or work experience as an “equivalent to some of the certification needed for registration in degree programmes”.
As he sees it, the crucial factor isn’t the lack of entry qualifications but people’s ability to do the work and ultimately to graduate.
“It’s one thing to consider what people come into the university with, but what’s really important is what they leave with,” he said. “It’s the knowledge and the skills you acquire and leave with.”
The vice chancellor contends that the UWI must look at the region’s educational needs and continue to create innovative ways for people looking to upgrade their skills and move up in society.
Major universities in North America, England and across Europe have been offering such advanced educational opportunities to mature adults around the world for decades.