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Students opting out of Jamaica

Published:Thursday | January 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Jamaican students have always made good on opportunities to study abroad, but it appears over the last three or so years, the number of those making use of these opportunities have grown exponentially.

Education consultants involved in the business of overseas-school placements say the number of students looking to further their studies abroad have been steadily increasing, with students of varying backgrounds opting to leave Jamaica's shores.

They also say gone are the days when students only came to them for tertiary placements, but there is now a greater thrust towards getting into the top boarding secondary schools in North America and the United Kingdom.

Sandra Bramwell, international educational consultant and operator of Versan Educational Services, said since 2010, her outfit has seen a boost in the number of students applying for both universities and boarding schools outside of Jamaica.

"A lot now are seeking to go overseas and, in fact, we are seeing larger numbers with boarding schools," Bramwell said.

She added that Versan currently has at least 350 students preparing to leave the country to start school this coming September, with more than 100 already registered for the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Antonn Brown, from the Jamaica2Canada immigration and education firm, said since his company started operating in 2009, there has been a steady increase in the number of persons seeking to study abroad.

"In terms of applications, we get thousands per year, but maybe between 500 to 600 actually go [to Canada]," Brown indicated, adding that this is just from his office alone.

Data from the Institute of International Education has revealed that Jamaicans represent the largest number of Caribbean nationals seeking higher education in the United States, with close to 5,200 students studying in the US between 2011 and 2013.

However, Nicole Campbell, college consultant and director of AIM Educational Services, said this number was not entirely accurate, as it does not take into consideration those students who may be green card holders or those with dual citizenship who were educated in Jamaica then left to complete their studies overseas.


But North America is not the only place Jamaican students are eyeing. Bramwell said she has been getting requests from students opting to study as far away as eastern Asia and in Scandinavian countries such as Finland.

The consultants all agree that the upward trend of parents and students choosing international schools is based on the search for better opportunities and programmes that are more tailored to their pursuit such as animation and industrial engineering.

"Students from various backgrounds are seeking these opportunities. You would think that with the economic downturn, things would be different, but everyone is still trying to get into the best schools, and they are aware that several scholarships and financial aid are available outside of Jamaica," Campbell added.