UCC inks deal with University of Arizona

An agreement that will give students across the Caribbean the option of pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean/UCC Global Campus, Jamaica or University of Arizona, headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, without leaving their country, has been signed by both institutions.

The new partnership ultimately also encompassing the wider Commonwealth region, to explore in the future, countries in Africa and South East Asia will add to the rapidly growing University of Arizona Microcampus Network, with some 650-plus locations worldwide, a news release from UCC’s local publicists explained.

“It’s all about what’s possible and what lies just beyond the imagination,” the release quotes UCC founder and Group Executive Chairman Dr Winston Adams. “Like the UArizona, we pride ourselves on spurring disruptive innovation, creating new opportunities, igniting success and making a meaningful impact in people’s lives.”

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins agreed.

“Not only does an Arizona Microcampus location help solve the mobility challenges of today caused by COVID-19, it is a meaningful and long-term effort at meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of providing accessible quality education to the world,” he said.

University of Arizona is ranked in the Top 100 Best Global Universities by US News and World Report, and is among the top one per cent of 20,000-plus universities worldwide, according to the Center for World University.

With an estimated 400 million people in developing countries lacking access to higher education, US universities seeking to internationalise have only scratched the surface of the opportunities to help meet the world’s need for affordable, globally accessible and high-quality education. A few US and UK universities have set up international branch campuses, including at least four at UCC’s main campus since 2000.

It is estimated that at least 5,000 Jamaicans traditionally migrate each year to study in the US. However, the current novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape. Most potential Jamaican and Caribbean high school graduates and other Caribbean nationals who would have set their sights on migrating to the US this year to pursue an international US degree will be unable to do so, and must therefore remain at home.

Moreover, the cost of a US education vastly exceeds per capita income in the majority of developing countries, and most US universities offer limited scholarships to international students, generally expecting them to pay full tuition.

Answering the call to provide greater access to a top US education, UArizona has developed a new model for transnational education through the UArizona Microcampus Network.

“The events that caused the current situation in international education have hastened the dawn of a post-mobility world in which physical travel is unnecessary for the creation and transmission of knowledge across borders,” said Brent White, vice provost of global affairs at UArizona.

“Almost overnight, courses have transitioned to online, and international students are continuing to study safely and affordably while remaining at home in their own countries. We want to help them achieve their dreams of a US degree, no matter the circumstances,” White added.

“As a University of Arizona Microcampus Location, UCC will leverage the latest technology to deliver cutting-edge education to high school graduates and working adults online, or in a blended delivery format, on a full-time or part-time basis, throughout Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region, while preserving an in-class, on-campus experience,” the release stated.

Moreover, this new UCC/UArizona partnership will engage select UCC international online and local faculty and UArizona faculty, who will develop and deliver the anticipated dual-degree or stand-alone degree programmes together, co-teaching courses online and onsite in the Caribbean. Students will be able to take UCC courses at the same time they take UArizona courses, allowing for fully integrated dual-degree programmes.

“Unlike studying abroad or taking traditional courses at home, this collaborative approach to programme development and teaching will also allow students in the Caribbean to learn about course materials situated in the local context of their home countries, and from an international perspective,” the release explained.

“Because the significant cost-savings of the model will enable UArizona and UCC to set tuition at local market rates, this greatly increases access and affordability by eliminating the substantial costs of living abroad,” it added.

The programme is scheduled to begin in Jamaica during September and November 2021, and in January 2022, and in other Caribbean islands during November 2021 and January 2022. UCC said it estimates that approximately 5,000 Caribbean students will initially be targeted for entry by the spring semester 2022.

Applications for Jamaican students will tentatively open on May 24, 2021 via the UCC/UCC Global Campus website. The first virtual information session is planned for June 1, 2021.

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