Brandon University develops partnerships in Jamaica
For the past two years, Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, has been developing partnerships with institutions in Jamaica and elsewhere in the world.
Its president and vice-chancellor, Gervan Fearon, who is of Jamaican parentage, says that the intent is international students engagement and recruitment, both being important to the university, as well as to provide accessibility.
"Why I say accessibility, in an interesting sense, is making sure that domestic students can be exposed to the globe, even by these students who are coming from other countries and the like."
Brandon University has some engagements with China and is also working with other locations, including Jamaica.
Fearon said that he is pleased to have signed agreements with the University of Technology (UTech) in February 2016 and with the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) and the Mico University College in December 2016
The university is in the process of establishing agreements with the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts the and Moneague College.
The memorandum of understanding agreements note that parties are "interested in developing a variety of collaborative activities aimed at enriching the student experience and achieving internationalisation of objectives of the respective institutions".
The partnerships "will focus on, but not be limited to, the following opportunities: study abroad at Brandon University, student exchanges, faculty/staff exchanges, and transnational/articulation programmes."
Brandon University is also engaging with the University of the West Indies through the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarships.
These scholarships provide students and researchers from Latin America and the Caribbean with short-term exchange opportunities for study or research in Canada at the college, undergraduate, and graduate levels.
Students from UTech get exposed to international education in Canada. Known for its emergency-management programme, the Manitoba-based university is helping to develop a master's programme in emergency development at UTech.
UTech is also developing a master's in rural development, and work at the research level, as well as in computer science. Professor Balfour Spence took 10 students to stay in Jamaica to do studies at UTech.
The agreement with UCC is for joint programming or articulation assignment in which students from Jamaica spend two years at Brandon and students from Canada spend two years at the institution.
Fearon said that he wants Brandon students to go get international experience and the UCC campus in Mandeville is an ideal location for them.
There are now five agreements, and the university president's plan is to have five to seven yielding benefits to Brandon and the institutions in Jamaica.
He said that the music programme at Brandon is one of the oldest and the best in Canada, and there is an innovative partnership with the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts.
The university is also talking with the Alpha Institute, which has one of the best music programmes in Jamaica. The aim is to expand the music programme at Brandon to have a broader context to it, like world music.
Fearon uses various opportunities to advertise to anyone considering post-secondary education to consider Brandon University, which is relatively competitive and has a very low cost of living.
He said it is a good institution outside of the Toronto area and he urges young people not to limit themselves to where they live, but to look for employment opportunities across the country.
He encourages them to not sit with their skills and possibilities and not look further afield across Canada.
Some years ago, he did some work in Kenya through the University of Nairobi and got a chance to visit Dadaab, a refugee camp there.
A student from Dadaab is now attending Brandon and a few students from a school he worked at there are enrolled at the university.
"When we are here in Canada, we sometimes lose connectedness to people," he said, urging people to look at the challenges that are out there globally and to help to catapult others.