Officials at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) are making a call for regional governments to consider subsidising tuition fees for students who study at the institution.
Speaking at a Jamaica Observer Business Forum recently, founder and president of the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation, Dr Geneive Brown Metzger, said currently Caribbean students who study at CMU have to pay at the rate of an international student.
“Even though it is named the Caribbean Maritime University, it is really a Jamaican maritime university because we don’t have the same model that The University of the West Indies (UWI) does,” said Metzger.
The CMU is a public tertiary institution which specialises in maritime education and training. The university was founded in 1980 and has a cohort of over 5,000 students.
Dean of the Faculty of Marine and Nautical Studies at the CMU, Captain Devron Newman, admitted that the institution has not reached out to the respective governments in the region as yet but admitted that it is an idea which is worth exploring.
He explained that the Caribbean has a rich history in the maritime industry especially in the tourism and cruise sectors. He said once the powers that be recognise the value of the industry to the regional economies they shouldn’t have a problem investing in it.
But the maritime officials are aware that it will not happen overnight. Pointing to the model of The UWI, Metzger conceded that achieving such a feat will take some time.
“I understand it will take a bit of work and consultation across the Caricom and heads of states to be able to bring this to fruition. The UWI model is that most of the countries in the Caricom will subscribe and so students will be able to study at various UWI campuses at a similar rate. For the CMU, students that are not Jamaican study at the CMU at the foreign rate which is very high.”
For example, the tuition for an international student pursuing the MSc in Industrial Systems at the CMU can go as high as US$28,477, that’s about $4.4 million. Local students are only being charged $1.7 million for the same degree.
In order to level the playing field for all Caribbean nationals, Captain Newman stressed that the institution needs regional cooperation and support.
“We need additional support from governments and other donor agencies in order to enable us to provide the resources that are needed to facilitate the education and training of our youngsters,” he stated.
In the meantime, Metzger noted that there is a strong demand for more qualified maritime professionals especially with the reopening of many countries following the coronavirus pandemic induced shutdowns. In that regard, she noted that the foundation continues to assist as many Caribbean nationals as possible with scholarship and grants to study at the CMU.
“By now we have about 12 Bahamians coming to the CMU. They are paying a much higher rate than locals. So, we have some work to do with respect to ensuring that it is truly a regional institution and I think that is the future. I think that until and unless the powers that be appreciate the importance of the maritime and shipping and logistics sector to the future of the Caribbean perhaps that shift will not happen,” said Metzger.