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NCU fights dwindling enrolment

Published:Thursday | July 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Amid increasing competition in the tertiary-education sector, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has made a concerted effort to arrest the downward trend in enrolment that has plagued the institution.

President of the Mandeville-based institution Dr Trevor Gardener has indicated that several remedial actions have been taken to reverse the downward trend in enrolment that has persisted for the past 10 years.

"Primarily, we made different arrangements in terms of student payment plans and made it a little less onerous on the students to make those payments. We accommodated a number of scholarships. We got more help from our alumni, which supported the new scholarships we got. We made a deliberate attempt to work more with organisations on the ground across the country and directly with schools and church groups. We also developed a more substantive recruitment team," he told The Gleaner.


Enrolment numbers up


Those efforts appear to have reaped dividends for the university given that the enrolment numbers have been up since last year and spiked by 37 per cent in January. Another positive sign has been the addition of 61 new students for the summer session, an occurrence which Gardener admits is unusual as the institution does not normally attract new students in the summer.

Gardener also said that the international profile of the university has been lifted and this has served to diversify not only its student body, but also its faculty. The university, this year, enrolled students from some 30-plus countries.

"Our international recognition has spiked and so ... our international student enrolment went up by two per cent and we participated in international debate competitions, and that certainly gave us significant recognition. Our international business-model team, two years in a row they won the competition. That certainly helps to sell the international profile of the institution," he said.

The Seventh-day Adventist institution is in the process of reforming its offerings to meet the needs of the market, and, by doing so, attract more students.

"One of the things we realise, the traditional degree programme is not the best fit for the needs of the country today, and so we are looking very seriously at how we can align ourselves with some of the skills-based centres and add capacity to what they prepare their students for, going into the future," Gardener said.