On the cusp of celebrating 50 years of providing tertiary education in Barbados, the Barbados Community College (BCC) is fixing its gaze on the global higher education marketplace.
In fact, if Chairman of the Board of Management, Stephen Broome, has his way, the College could become a “second country provider” of higher educational services and programmes to countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the wider Caribbean, in its specialty areas – Hospitality Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, Health Sciences, Languages, Media & Journalism and Technology.
Mr. Broome made the projection during the BCC’s graduation ceremony, which was recently held at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex under the theme: Sustaining the Quality: Expanding Borders. The College is set to mark its 50th anniversary next year.
The chairman explained that the ‘Eyrie’ Howells Road, St. Michael institution had worked its way up from being in the “uncomfortable post-secondary zone”, juxtaposed somewhere between secondary schools and the University of the West Indies, to developing its own identity.
“As countries begin to embrace the reality that more of their population educated at higher levels will only serve to improve the state of the country [and the economy], avenues are opening for ‘second country’ providers to offer higher education services in those countries.
“When one looks through the catchment area of the Caribbean, especially in the OECS, it is obvious to see the difference between the high quality of services delivered in Barbados and the level of service in those jurisdictions. Coupled with this geographical reality and the need to expand its curriculum and student experience through international linkages, the Barbados Community College can, therefore, ‘expand its borders’ in [a number of ways],” Mr. Broome stated.
These included, he indicated, franchises to approve the College’s courses for use in other community colleges; increased articulation agreements to support bi-directional education aimed at cooperation between the BCC and other institutions; twinning and international linkages; developing programmes with corporate Barbados and regional institutions aimed at professional development and training; distance education programmes; and study abroad, in which the BCC has already been involved.
The College is also proud of the fact that history was created during the ceremony, when 86 students graduated with Bachelor degrees in Education, Graphic Design, Studio Art, General Nursing and Pharmacy.
Thirty-four persons graduated with a BSc. in Nursing, making them the second cohort of students to do so. Additionally, Pharmacy produced its first group of graduates – 18 in total – with a BSc. in Pharmacy.
The chairman said this represented a milestone for the Health Sciences Division because the College would have finally completed its mandate to move the Associate degrees in these two programmes to Bachelor degrees.
In addition, four new Bachelor degree programmes were introduced at the BCC – Arts and Entertainment Management, Physical Education, Media and Journalism, and Clinical Laboratory Science (formally Medical Laboratory Technology).
“[This] speaks to an institution readying itself to be able to expand its horizons. In order to do this, the physical infrastructure must also be in place to assist and complement the strategic direction of the College. The Board of Management has started to upgrade the infrastructure of both campuses recognising that the fiscal space to do so is limited,” Mr. Broome noted.
He disclosed that the College spent a total of BDS$ 2,334,180 in the last financial year in maintenance and upgrades of facilities at its two campuses. The Eyrie Campus accounted for the lion’s share of these upgrades, with $2 million being spent to renovate the student and staff bathrooms and to upgrade fire and safety equipment, security lighting and the Student Affairs and Registrar Departments.
“[We spent $342,000] at the BCC Hospitality Institute. We have upgraded the air conditioning in classrooms and hotel rooms, and removed and replaced the floor to the main and demonstration kitchens. These upgrades are now all completed and we will in the coming year, continue our upgrades to the tune of BDS$1.1 million to the gymnasium floor, which will be replaced [at the cost of] $200,000.
“Work will also commence on November 28, 2017, on the air conditioning at the Barbados Language Centre and there will be repairs to roofing and other defects across the campus,” the Chairman revealed, adding that the Board of Management had already budgeted to change out the furniture across the campuses.
He cited the different areas where the College had made a significant contribution through its programmes. These included the hospitality and health sectors, culture, arts, journalism and even in the area of public transportation, whereby route taxi and minibus drivers were trained through the Public Service Vehicle Operators Training Programme. Taxi operators working in the tourism industry were also trained through the Passenger Transport Service Operators Training Courses.
Mr. Broome said the theme: Sustaining Quality: Expanding Borders, was a call to arms for the BCC as it was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
“The BCC must go forward proud of its institutional legacy and the reputation of our faculty, programmes, alumni and public service efforts…The 50th anniversary, therefore, provides an opportunity to reflect on past successes and envision new goals for the future,” he emphasised.