UCC Urges Gov’t to Establish Education Export Task Force
WITH HIGHER education being a tradable commodity in the international market, the government is taking steps to introduce a higher education act to facilitate growth in that sector of the economy. In addition, the government is setting up a task force to lead the drive to export higher education, including as part of the tourism product.
Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid made these disclosures during a recent meeting with representatives of the board of the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) at its Worthington Avenue campus in New Kingston. The UCC management team highlighted the need for the government to promote the development of an education export sector.
Minister Reid said that the proposed passage of the Higher Education Act is necessary to achieve "legislative tidying up". This includes the provision of a legislative framework for higher education in which the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (JTEC) can operate.
In addition to plans to pass the Higher Education Act, the education minister indicated that government was intent on establishing a "diverse higher-education industry with institutional approval first by JTEC and the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), followed by granting of charter status".
The enactment of higher-education legislation would also align Jamaica's product to international standards of quality assurance that obtain in the export market, according to Dr Carolyn Hayle, chairperson of the UCJ, who was among the officials from the education ministry who met with UCC management.
The UCJ chairperson noted that internationally, there is a distinction between higher education and tertiary education. She disclosed that currently in Jamaica, four universities offer accredited doctoral programmes, several university colleges offer accredited master's degrees, and several tertiary institutions offer accredited bachelor's degree programmes.
Speaking on behalf of the university's board members, UCC Group Executive Chairman Dr Winston Adams welcomed the education minister's plans to set up a task force to promote the export of higher education and to enact legislation to modernise the operating environment for higher-education institutions.
Adams noted that in the 21st century, knowledge and information had emerged as vital resources for countries at all development stages.
He said Jamaica that has the potential to develop a unique product comprising of tourism and education. This incorporates and goes beyond aspects of heritage tourism, eco-tourism, and community tourism.
According to Adams, the education tourism product considers the needs of student-tourists, not only for enjoyment in a stress-free environment, but more important, for their own education. The UCC, in collaboration with JAMPRO, has designed an edu-tourism product offering. This project will seek to position Jamaica as a global leader in quality higher education within this niche.