NCU intensifies enrolment drive

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Grappling with the challenge of declining enrolment, the Mandeville-headquartered Northern Caribbean University (NCU) is on a mission to ensure it is an institution of choice for prospective students.

President Dr Lincoln Edwards said that the Christ-centred and values-based education offering is important in today's society as the administration works to expand its reach.

“We would like to not just offer this high-quality education to Jamaicans but to those in other countries. I know that there are many Jamaicans living in the diaspora, who would love to have their children return to Jamaica to receive a high-quality education here. We are working with the Ministry of Education to achieve approval through the American Department of Education for students to use their Federal Aid to attend university here in Jamaica (at NCU). We have approval for (US Army) veterans to come to NCU and to use their veterans' benefit here…,” he said.

Edwards was speaking at a press conference at the institution last Thursday, at which he announced major developments, including its recent institutional accreditation award from the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ).

“This is something that we have worked hard towards,” he said.

In a practical sense, Edwards said the designation means there is wider international recognition for the programmes; there is public assurance that the new graduates have acquired the necessary competencies to enter the profession for which they have studied; transparency and accountability to stakeholders; and transfers and further studies at other schools can be done more easily.

Dr Marilyn Anderson, former vice-president for academic administration and former interim president who served as the accreditation consultant on a steering committee put in place since 2016, said that the process required that they work on improving on a number of standards set by the UCJ, including in relation to academics, facilities, student services, and governance.

The audience was told that similar to the structure of the UCJ, a Quality Management and Institutional Research Unit is now in place at NCU and is tasked with the internal responsibility of maintaining standards.

Edwards said that NCU is doing well in the different departments, and, in addition to the veterans' benefit and federal aid, outreach such as the RESCUE (Restoring Every Student's Confidence Using Education) initiative to support students who may not have been able to enter and the long-standing practice of work and study, is ensuring that they are contributing to the national and international targets for sustainable development through education.

The president said that students in pursuit of tertiary studies at NCU have options such as receiving an undergraduate degree in a shorter period of time, even though it is chiefly a four-year institution.

For example, students with associate degrees from the Caribbean Examination Council aligned to what they intend to study at NCU can complete their bachelor's degrees in two years.

He said the institution offers distance studies and students also have a choice to study at extension campuses in Kingston, Montego Bay, and soon there will be a campus in Ocho Rios.

Next year will be 100 years since the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist-operated NCU, and a number of activities are set to mark the milestone.

The institution was established in 1907 in St Catherine as the West Indian Training School and moved to its main location in Mandeville in 1919.

— Alicia Sutherland

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