EDITORIAL: UWI strengthening foreign ties
THE PRESENCE of Panamanian students at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies to study English as a second language is a most welcome and far-reaching development.
This project is yet another aspect of the campus’ increasingly international outreach and it marks a growing acceptance of the view that while our university is a place of learning, it can also contribute to Barbados’ fiscal landscape.
It is also a further signal that the Campus is open to business for international students who wish to study at our university, and it speaks volumes about the wisdom of acquiring a second language to complement one’s native language and in this respect it is a lesson that we might take to heart.
English, being the language of international business, is a language in demand, and it is very clear thinking on the part of our university that it seeks to tap into the historical ties between Panama and Barbados to offer instruction in an area in which we have the relevant expertise.
It is clear that this initiative is consistent with the broader policy led by the Government to deepen relations with Panama. Already there is a double taxation agreement in place and air and port services agreements between the two countries are also in place to strengthen these ties.
One significant point about these youngsters is that there are pre-university students and this programme by the campus while to some extent an end in itself, may well be a catalyst for advertising the campus’ programmes to some of these young students once they matriculate for university studies.
Indeed the suggestion of campus principal Professor Eudine Barriteau that faculty leaders should consider the development of a one year immersion English language course as a one year preliminary requirement for non-English-speaking students wishing to pursue degrees at the campus is an idea worth exploring.
Some local students have already taken advantage of similar language immersion programmes offered by Chinese universities, and have graduated with their degrees as well as proficiency in the Chinese language, so that the principal’s suggestion is workable!
The campus has an international standing and its tuition fees are attractive when compared with other institutions; and without sacrificing its original obligation to regional students, it can offer the total student body an enriching experience by increased exposure of its courses to students from non-regional countries.
The generation of foreign exchange realised from this increased exposure and intake of non-regional students emphasises the quality and value of education as an invisible export which compliments the national policy to develop a service economy.
We trust that Barbadians will embrace these students and make their stay with us a pleasant experience. History suggests that they may well be more than mere visitors since some of them may indeed be our kith and kin.
Providing educational services for foreign students augurs well for the university and the economy and we hope to see greater numbers of international students on our local campus in due course.
By developing its international connections, the campus will enhance its reputation as a centre of high-quality education services, while contributing to the island’s foreign exchange earnings. This is surely the way to go, and we wish the campus well!