FAQ On Continuing Education In The Caribbean
Q: What are the top universities in the Caribbean and where are they located?
UWI, THE UNIVERSITY OF WEST INDIES: is currently ranked the highest among universities in the Caribbean. This ranking is based on a comparison of cost and quality, that is, how expensive it is to attend a school in relation to the quality of education that is acquired in the aforementioned institution. Consequently, the University of West Indies is the first on the list of schools that take relatively cheap tuition and offer great quality education.
The school was founded in 1948, and was originally established to cater to the demands for higher education of the residents of 17 anglophone states and regions in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St.Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands. However, they accept international students as part of their exchange program policy with other schools.
Although the school has its headquarters in Mona, Jamaica, it also has four other major campuses to serve the needs of its large population of students which is estimated to be about 50,000. Its four other campuses are UWI Cave Hill (Barbados), UWI St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago), UWI Five Islands (Antigua and Barbuda), and the regional UWI Open Campus in the UWI-funding Caribbean nations.
As a testament to its great prowess as an education provider, UWI has produced many world-renowned scholars and professionals in various disciplines like business, politics, arts, sports, and science. Among its prominent alumni are Nobel Laureates, an Emmy Award winner, a Man Booker Prize winner, 72 Rhodes scholars, and an Olympic medalist, to mention a few.
UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO: is ranked the second-best university in the Caribbean. It has an estimated population of 58,000 students and 11 campuses to cater to its large population, however, its main campus is in Río Piedras.
The institution went through many academic changes and reforms since, and the creation of many departments and faculties as the years went by, so it now offers many academic disciplines in various fields of study and accounts for the largest number of academic offerings in the commonwealth. UPR runs a total of 472 academic programs, out of which 32 are doctorate programs.
It is the first university to have been established in Puerto Rico, going as far back as 1903, and even now is the major public university in Puerto Rico. It is also renowned for its production of politically conscious students and was especially marked out for this by the strikes and protests carried out against unfavourable reforms by the school concerning the student body. Notable among its alumni are some governors, a state representative, an Admiral in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, highly ranked NASA officials, a President of the Senate, and a biological oceanographer among others.
UPR also accepts ISEP exchange students and offers some of its courses in English for the sake of anglophone or English speaking students. A bonus to schooling at the University of Puerto Rico is the rich and inherent Puerto Rican culture they get to experience in their daily life.
POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO (La Poli): was founded in 1966. It is a private institution that specializes in engineering and other courses such as architecture, land surveying, and business administration. It is said to have produced 40% of Hispanic engineers in the US. Its main campus is in San Juan, Puerto Rico and it has two other satellite campuses in Florida, one in Miami and the other in Orlando. It also has a virtual campus that offers online degrees. It has a student population of 5193 undergraduates and 721 postgraduates.
Q: What is Continuing Education?
A : Continuing Education is post-secondary education. It is a process of acquiring knowledge and learning new skill sets or improving on old ones, generally after formal education. It is largely and often done by adults who have not finished university and are returning to get their degree or those who, in adulthood, have never pursued tertiary education. Continuing education courses can be anything ranging from pottery to public speaking, to business management or art appreciation. Generally, the aim of continuing education is not only to get a university degree but also to upgrade one's skills. Some forms of continuing education, however, offer certificates after the completion of a course or a series of courses, all on the same subject. Also, for some professions continuing education is realized through the acquisition of advanced degrees gotten from tertiary institutions.
Q: Can I transfer previous credits as a Continuing Education student?
Transferring credits is a process that occurs when a student changes learning institutions. For this process, the student provides his/her academic transcript(s) from their previous institution(s). The transcript must be a conclusive list of all the courses taken and grades realized in each course. After the student provides his/her transcripts, the receiving institution evaluates it to see if the courses taken satisfy its requirements for the student's intended course of study.
The possibility of transferring credits is purely dependent on the institutions concerned. Therefore, one has to learn conclusively about what is acceptable in their chosen institution and see if it fits with the plans of transferring credits. Some institutions allow it, but this is also dependent on if the courses taken in the previous educational program match the ones required for the continuing education program.
Q: How much does continuing education cost in the Caribbean?
Continuing education courses are relatively affordable. Depending on the course, institution, and duration of study tuition for continuing education may vary from USD$600 to USD$3000 per year. There are also schools which in order to make their programs flexible and fit into the students' schedules run their continuing education courses for certain hours per term. Some of these institutions run three terms and charge an average of USD$350 per course.
Q: Are there any age restrictions for continuing education in the Caribbean?
Yes, there are age restrictions, but these restrictions depend on the institution you are applying to. Some institutions like ABICE (Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education), which is the highest-ranked technical-vocational institute in Barbuda, only admit students that are 16 years and older, while some others only accept students that are 18 years and older.
Q: What are the academic requirements for someone wanting to pursue continuing education in the Caribbean, either in person or online?
For some institutions, to be able to take continuing education courses you must possess a high school diploma or CXC/CSEC results. However, there are a few universities that will allow adult students to apply without these documents. In this case, these adults would be required to take a placement test.
Q: How can I register for continuing education courses?
For most institutions, registration forms are available online. One can easily get the form, fill it appropriately, and proceed to register. Information on payment procedures will also be available on the institution's website. For some institutions, however, you have to get your registration form from their head office and carry out the registration and payment procedure physically.
Q: Can I receive financial assistance as a Continuing Education student?
Yes, you can. There are many scholarship programs that have been sought out from various sources and that are open to Continuing Education students, especially for online and distant learning programs.
Q: Can I live on campus as a Continuing Education student?
For students who take online courses and do distance learning, living on campus does not come into play. However, for students who are in physical programs the ability to live on campus depends on the age of the student and their accommodation needs. You should reach out to your intended institutions about accommodation to confirm whether or not they have spaces for continuing education students.
Q: What are some popular courses in the Caribbean?
Below are some generally offered Continuing Education courses in Caribbean universities with large numbers of students.
WELDING AND FABRICATION: is the process of crafting metal products. While welding is mostly concerned with joining metal pieces, fabrication is a process that involves planning, sketching, designing and manufacturing metal products. Students with a certificate in welding and fabrication have many career choices among which are Quality Engineering and Welding Engineering. A quality engineer's duty is to examine a product and ensure that the quality is unimpaired, while a welding engineer creates new and/or improves on already existing welding techniques and equipment.
ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING: is the creation of technical drawings for a building or other architecture-related entities. Not only are architectural designs useful to architects, but they are also employed for other purposes such as to clearly express and develop ideas, designs or concepts into an aesthetically orderly and convincing proposal.
COSMETOLOGY: is the professional process of improving appearance by working on a person's face, nails, hair or skin. There are various career paths for cosmetology experts including being a hairstylist, barber, nail technician, makeup artist, beauty writer, esthetician or fashion stylist.
EVENT MANAGEMENT: is the application of project management skills (which is the ability to coordinate the efforts of a team to achieve a goal) to the planning, organization and creation of all kinds of events, ranging from private to personal to corporate. Such events include conferences, conventions, festivals, birthday parties, and weddings.
MANUAL COMMUNICATION: is a non-verbal means of passing information or expressing thoughts to other people. It is a visual form of communication that involves miming or sign language which is mostly done by hand gestures or facial expressions. It is helpful for communicating with people with impaired hearing or, in the case of students with learning disabilities, is used as a supplementary teaching method.
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: is the process of managing an organization. It involves synchronizing and applying all resources at hand, whether technical or financial, and coordinating all of the company’s departments towards realizing the goals of an organization.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: is the study of the relationship that exists between employer and employees. It focuses on the interaction and reciprocal behaviour of workers and employers in an industry. Industrial relations is very important because it determines the productivity of an industry.
BUSINESS WRITING: is generally any business-related or professional writing. It is always intentional, direct, concise, and effective. It could be instructional like user manuals or employee memos, or informative like minute taking or bookkeeping. There is also persuasive business writing which is applied in advertising, and transactional business writing such as emails from banks to customers or from company to employees.
HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: is the skilful and strategic utilization and management of an organization's workforce to attain maximum productivity. People that possess degrees or certificates in human resource management can work at any organization as human resource managers or create their own organizations and successfully manage it.
COMPUTER LITERACY: is an understanding and the knowledge of the workings of a computer system and other related technology, and the ability to apply this knowledge in practical situations.
ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT: is a study that seeks to relate the dynamics of human existence to the environment. It studies the interactions between humans in the society, their actions and activities and how it impacts the environment. It also deals with the regulation of human behaviour in regards to the environment as a means of protecting environmental health.
PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING: is a counselling practice that focuses on the psychological aspects of processes information and healing trauma, as it relates to problem-solving, decision making and managing the daily routine. Unlike other forms of counselling, psychological counselling focuses on general physical, mental, and emotional health as opposed to specific, or more targeted, counselling fields like marriage or childhood counselling.
Q: Do I have to pursue a degree as a Continuing Education student or can I pursue individual courses instead?
Under normal circumstances, admission into a programme requires you to choose a clear-cut goal - a specific degree or programme of choice. However, continuing education students may or may not choose a specific degree to study. Instead, they can opt to take several courses, which by doing so, do not automatically apply to a degree. That is, if they’re after an education in Computer Science, for example, they must carefully select courses that apply to that degree and their future career goals.
Q: Will I have support as a Continuing Education student?
For adults who are returning to education after a while, there are a lot of challenges encountered in employing new technology for their studies and assimilating what they are being taught. In a consultation held by Caribbean countries, solutions have been proffered to these problems. There is provision for a curricular adaptation that will aid adults in adjusting to a new education environment, and also for teachers' training which will aid the instructors in learning how to relate and pass knowledge on to the senior students. There is also a flexibility of learning hours that makes it convenient for adults to carry on with their work and other activities while at the same time studying.
Q: Can I study online as a Continuing Education student?
Yes, you can study online as a continuing education student. There are many universities in the Caribbean that run online continuing education programs like the University of West Indies and the University of Bahamas. The University of Bahamas, for instance, offers online courses ranging from administration to anatomy and physiology, to language courses such as Conversational French and Spanish for Tourism. These online programs run for an average of 6 to 10 weeks and range from 20 to 60 hours per week.
Q: Which Caribbean universities have provisions for disabled or elderly students?
Lately, Caribbean countries have increasingly tried to create provisions for disabled students or students with special needs as a part of their education for all policy. Universities in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia are very invested in funding for such students while other Eastern Caribbean countries are determined to include people with disabilities in the educational system.
However, a university that is certainly known to cater to the needs of disabled students is the University of West Indies. It provides advice and study training skills for such students, monitors their wellbeing, and provides special support like assistive technology. It also gives sign language training to its staff in order to facilitate the students' learning process.
Q: Do any Caribbean universities have childcare options for parents?
Yes, most Caribbean universities have childcare options for parents. An example of this is the University of West Indies. This university is known to possess several facilities to provide training for people interested in early childhood education. But, it is also known to run a childcare centre on campus to support student parents.
You can reach out to your institution for more information on childcare options.