Give UCJ more power
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am writing in response to Letter of the Day, 'Colleges, students must share blame in accreditation mess' (August 29, 2014). I am in agreement with the author on the point that institutions that are faced with the issue of accreditation should be open and honest about it.
Given that accreditation is not tantamount to having motor insurance or is not automatic, it should be mandatory for such institutions to clearly communicate what specific programmes are not accredited. This transparency is vital, because it speaks to integrity. I know the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) provides professional advice and services regarding the development and improvement of programmes and has developed many guidelines to help institutions to become accredited. In addition, I think the UCJ should act as a watchdog to ensure that these institutional leaders (trustees and administrators) are held accountable to create the necessary conditions and assure that the schools teach, conduct regular research, establish and enforce standards of academic quality that qualify them for accreditation.
Getting a job
The author addressed the issue of students having problems landing jobs with their degrees because of lack of accreditation. How many of our students are given advice on the importance of choosing accredited programmes? This is not a fundamental area looked at on Career Day at secondary schools. It should be.
The UCJ can also be one of the major institutions to spearhead Career Days in an effort to ensure students embark on a path that will benefit them in the long term.
I also welcome the content of this letter, especially from the viewpoint of job scarcity and the importance of enhancing students' employability. Can you imagine the heartache and frustration faced by students who incur student-loan debt and, on completion of a programme, find it difficult to land a job because of accreditation problems?
Why does the Students' Loan Bureau grant loans for these institutions or programmes? Is there no collaboration between employers, professional bodies, and these unaccredited institutions?
I believe that broadening the scope of the University Council of Jamaica Act (1987) to make accreditation mandatory will be an effective long-term response.