Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Degrees worthless - Graduates' patience wears thin as UCJ refuses to accredit Hydel programmes

Published:Wednesday | August 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
From left: Prime Minister Bruce Golding; Senator Hyacinth Bennett, president and founder of the Hydel Group of Schools; Education Minister Andrew Holness; and Dr Cecil Goodridge, chairman, Hydel Group of Schools, at the official opening of the Hydel University in 2009. - FILE

 Tyrone Thompson, Staff Reporter

The anticipated joy of 69 early childhood teachers who graduated from the Hydel University College (HUC) last December has turned into frustration as the credentials earned at the institution have not been recognised by the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) because the school is not registered, nor is the programme accredited.

Some of the graduates told The Gleaner that despite numerous meetings, the situation remains unresolved.

Keisha, one such graduate, said her life has been put on hold by the non-recognition of her degree after her four years of study.

"Our patience is wearing out!" she said. "After four years, we are unable to move forward with our lives and apply for jobs or start working because as it stands now, our degrees are worthless."

Latoya, another graduate, said she, too, has been facing difficulties in trying to secure employment.

"I got a job at a basic school, but two months later, I was told by the principal that instructions had come from the Ministry of Education that they could not hire me because my degree was not accredited, and the institution I attended wasn't recognised by the UCJ," she said.

Latoya claimed that when students checked with the UCJ, they were told that the school would not be recognised unless it changed its name from Hydel University College to Hydel College. This was necessary as the institution had to be in operation for at least seven years to be named a university.

Accreditation officer at the UCJ, Dr Dawn Barrett-Adams, would not confirm this to The Gleaner, stating that it was not the policy of the council to publicly discuss the registration process with specific reference to any institution. She, however, said that the HUC had applied for registration.

She went on to state that tertiary institutions could operate without being fully registered with the UCJ as the registration process is voluntary. Credentials received, however, from unregistered tertiary institutions did face heightened scrutiny from local and inter-national employers.

"The majority of employers will require that its employees' credentials receive the stamp of approval from the the UCJ, and for that to be the case, the institution must meet the required standards for registration and for programme accreditation," Barrett-Adams added.

ONGOING DIALOGUE

K.D. Knight, who said he is an adviser to Hydel's management, told The Gleaner that a change of requirements in relation to the name of the institution was, in fact, an issue.

"The UCJ and the HUC have been in constant working dialogue in relation to the recognition of the school, but there was a change in the requirements and so that became an issue," he said.

Knight went on to state that the school was cognizant of the difficulties being faced by the graduates and asked them to be patient.

"We just want to appeal to the students to work with the school because we have no intention to deceive them; however, we are currently involved in a structured procedure and we are currently trying to find an early resolution to the crisis," he said.

But this was of little consolation to Latoya, who told The Gleaner that the graduates had lost patience and were looking forward to a meeting with Hyacinth Bennett, founder of the Hydel Group of Schools.

"We are going to be meeting with her on Friday with an ultimatum because all she has to do is change the name of the school, yet she refuses do so. We can't just sit around and wait forever. This is our lives we are talking about," she said.

Names changed on request.