FAQs for Caribbean Students
1. What are some of the best Universities in the Caribbean?
- The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
- Saint George’s University, Grenada
- University of the Virgin Islands
- Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic
- Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC)
- Universidad de La Habana, Havana, Cuba
- Universidad de Oriente Santiago de Cuba
- Ciudad Universitaria Jose Antonio Echeverria
- Universidad Central Marta Abreu de las Villas, Santa Clara, Cuba
- University de Puerto Rico
- Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico
2. What are the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) requirements to enter most Caribbean colleges?
The CSEC requirements for Caribbean colleges typically depends on your field of study. A minimum of five (5) CSEC passes (Grades I-III) is required for undergraduate programmes at Caribbean universities, including English Language and Mathematics which are mandatory. The specific admission requirements for some faculties are as follows:
- For admission to the Faculty of Medical Science, a minimum of five (5) CSEC passes (Grades I-III) in English Language, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are required.
- For admission to the Faculty of Law, a minimum of five (5) CSEC passes (Grades I-III), including English Language, are required.
- For admission to the Faculty of Science and Technology, a minimum of five (5) CSEC passes (Grades I-III), including English Language and Mathematics, two (2) authorised laboratory science subjects, and one (1) additional subject, are required
- For admission to the Faculty of Social Sciences, a minimum of five (5) CSEC passes (Grades I-III), including English Language and Mathematics, are required.
Please check the portal of your preferred college for more information.
3. Are online programmes available through these schools?
Yes, there are several colleges in the Caribbean that offer online programmes. The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) offers fully online learning programmes that can earn you a BSc, an MSc, and a professional certificate on completion. University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) also offers fully online degrees to both regional and international students. You can also study online at the University of the Commonwealth in programmes such as Psychology, Business Administration, Social Work, and Human Resource Management. The University of the West Indies has an Open Campus, which allows students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, to study virtually. Subjects such as Paralegal Studies, Early Childhood Development, Political Science, and Criminology are all offered courses through UWI.
Some institutions also offer free online courses through various course providers. Saint George’s University, for example, offers a number of free medical courses on FutureLearn. Online programmes may be an option if you want to earn a degree from a Caribbean university, but this depends on your course of study, and if the programme is accredited.
4. Can I get financial aid to study in the Caribbean as a Caribbean national?
Yes, many Caribbean countries offer financial aid to their students in the form of scholarships, study loans, grants, and bursaries.
In Jamaica, for example, there are several scholarships available for indigenous students. Students in Trinidad and Tobago can apply for financial aid through the HELP programme—a soft loan granted by the Ministry of Education. There are also additional programmes, such as FASP, that assists students in obtaining a post-secondary or first undergraduate qualification.
Other Caribbean countries, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Barbados, also provide financial aid to their students. If you intend to study in the Caribbean, do some research about the financial aid programmes available in your country so you can know your options.
5. What are my housing options as a regional student in the Caribbean?
Accommodation may either be on-campus or off-campus. On-campus housing options for regional students include hostels or residence halls/dorms provided by the university. In some schools, this will be included in the costs of your chosen programme. For off-campus housing, options include bedsits, apartments, or houses, which may be rented individually or with other students.
You can always check the website of the institution you wish to attend, for assistance in your search for accommodation. The University of Trinidad and Tobago, for instance, has the Student Development Unit (SDU) that assists students in need of on-campus and off-campus accommodation. This department offers advice on how to select the right place to stay as well as a listing of the available accommodation around the university campuses.
Most Caribbean universities will either have their own housing options or be able to provide you with adequate guidance to find options on your own. At Northern Caribbean University, there are three residence halls on campus (two for men and one for women) that can be utilized by international and regional students. St. George’s University has housing on campus that can accommodate single students and married couples, along with a variety of off-campus housing options.
If you’re attending a local school, you could consider living at home, or with family members to save money on rent.
6. What study abroad programmes are available in the Caribbean?
There are various options for studying abroad in the Caribbean. If you’ve already been admitted, one of the most convenient ways of finding a study abroad programme is through your college or university. This way, your study abroad credits are more likely to meet your academic requirements.
Another option for studying abroad is to enrol directly at a Caribbean university. Instead of going through your home school, you can enrol at any Caribbean institution of your choice for either a semester, a year, or a full degree.
You can also use a third-party service to find a study abroad programme. There are various companies that operate in the education sector to help students find study abroad programmes all over the world, regardless of your major or school.
Some study abroad programmes in the Caribbean are given below:
- Caribbean Culture, Spanish Language & Courses with Locals, PUCMM, Santiago, Dominican Republic
- EEAbroad Study Abroad Programs, Cuba
- AIFS Programme, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados
You can as well search for study abroad programmes by visiting Go Overseas, or GoAbroad.
7. What is the minimum age for application at most universities in the Caribbean?
The minimum age requirement varies depending on the country or institution in which you plan to study.
For example, the University of Trinidad and Tobago has a minimum age requirement of 16 years, while the University of the West Indies (UWI) has no minimum requirement for undergraduate students, except for MBBS and B.Sc. Physical Therapy (UWI Mona Campus, Jamaica) students, who must be at least 18 years old by December 31 of the year of entry; and nursing applicants, who must be at least 17 years old.
You should note that exceptions have been made in some cases, and students younger than the required age have been accepted into universities. Please visit the website of the school you plan to study for information on the specific age requirements.
8. Can I transfer from a school in my home country to another school in the Caribbean?
Yes. If you are transferring from a recognised school, you may be considered for admission as a transfer student after completing the application and providing all required documents. Depending on the school that you are transferring from, you may need to provide different types of documents to your intended school. For example, not all universities that accept transfer students will require that the student’s CSEC results are submitted along with their transcripts. However, some universities, even if the student has college credit, will still require that a student submits their CSEC results in addition to their transcripts and other relevant information. Admission may be given upon evaluation of your credentials.
1. Do I need to take an English-speaking test for admission?
If you want to study in the Caribbean and your first language is not English, you will probably need to take an English Language Proficiency (ELP) test. These tests access how well an international student understands and speak English to gauge whether or not this person should be enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Depending on the scores from the tests, a student may also be refused admission due to their lack of sufficient English-speaking proficiency. Many ELP tests, such as IELTS or TOEFL, are not required for students from English-speaking countries, because English is the primary language spoken in the majority of Caribbean countries.
Finding a programme that is entirely taught in English, however, will be dependent on the country you choose to study in. Students who enrol at a university in a Caribbean country that does not speak English may be required to be fluent in the official language of that country.
For instance, if you do not speak Spanish but wish to study in a Spanish-speaking country like Cuba, the Universidad de la Habana has the Faculty of Spanish for Non-Spanish Speakers (FENHI) that provides intensive Spanish language courses to students who want to learn or improve their Spanish.
This would be beneficial not only for academics but also for social interaction outside of school.
2. What is the average cost of a Caribbean university?
International students can get quality education in Caribbean universities for as low as 5,000 USD per semester. For instance, tuition fees at affordable universities in Cuba range from 20,000 USD to 40,000 USD for the whole programme, depending on the university or course of study. Medical schools, on the other hand, are much more expensive than regular degree programmes with tuition fees as high as 20,000 per semester.
With so much difference in figures, calculating an overall average for tuition fees in the various Caribbean countries is difficult, because it depends on your selected programme or the university you choose to attend. To get an estimate, you will need to do some research on how much it costs to school in a particular university.
3. Do I have to get a work visa to work while I study?
Yes. To work in the Caribbean, you will need a valid work visa. Students, however, are not permitted to work while on a student visa. In countries like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic, for instance, students can work on a work visa after finishing their studies. But, they are not permitted to work throughout their studies in order to allow them to concentrate without having to deal with the distractions of a job.
Some countries, though, allow on-campus employment as the only legal job option for international students. On-campus jobs include working at the cafeteria, library, bookstores, or departmental offices. These part-time jobs can provide valuable experience to international students in the Caribbean, as well as financial support.
4. Can I drive while in the Caribbean?
Yes, the same rules for foreigners in the Caribbean also apply to international students. To drive in the Caribbean, you will need a valid driver’s licence from your home country, or an international driving permit (IDP). An IDP is a domestic driver’s licence that can be used to drive or rent a car in several countries where it is accepted, including most Caribbean countries. Your IDP contains your name, photo, and driver information, and it translates into the 12 most spoken languages in the world, making it understandable to the majority of local officials and authorities in the countries you visit.
Although an IDP is preferable, Caribbean countries may accept the foreign license of international students, provided they are above the legal driving age of either 18 or 21 years.
5. What do I need to get a visa to study in the Caribbean?
To apply for a visa to study in the Caribbean, you will be required to provide the following:
- Letter of acceptance from the Institution
- Proof of adequate financial resources to support yourself during the period of study
- Proof of payment of tuition fees
- Proof of a reservation
- Completed application forms; and processing fees
- At least two recent coloured passport photographs
- Valid passport
- Photocopy of birth certificate
- Medical exam records
- Academic credentials
- Health insurance documents
This information is provided as a guide only, and it may differ from one Caribbean country to the other.
For more detailed information on visa requirements, check with the embassy of the country you plan to study in. Also, do all necessary research to obtain the most current information, as it is susceptible to change.
6. Can I apply to Caribbean universities online?
Yes, the application process for international students to Caribbean universities is typically submitted online. Universities now use the online application platform to make it easier for students to apply for programmes. For most universities, you’ll need to upload scanned versions of your original documents, such as your birth certificate, national identification card/passport, transcripts, CSEC results, and financial forms. Although many universities used to require physical copies of these documents mailed into the school, due to COVID, many of them now all offer a completely online application process. The admission process, however, varies by country for international students. It’s likely that you will be emailed or called to be verified of your approval status, but you should confirm with the school beforehand the method that will be used to contact you about the admissions process.
For further information, visit the website of your preferred school and look up the detailed entry requirements for your desired programme.
7. What are my housing options as an international student in the Caribbean?
On-campus accommodation is the most convenient option for international students. This is usually included in the cost of your chosen programme or provided by the university. Apartments, dorms, and home-stays are also common housing options for international students.
Most universities provide on-campus or off-campus housing to their students. They also offer international students guidance and assistance. The University of the West Indies, at St. Augustine, has a department that provides students—regional or international—access to competitively priced accommodation, on and off campus. At Saint George’s University, Grenada, students are provided with a variety of accommodations in different configurations, and that are equipped with amenities to make their stay at the university a comfortable one.
For more information on housing, check the website of the school you wish to attend.
8. Can I get a scholarship to study internationally in the Caribbean?
Yes, there are several scholarships available in the Caribbean for international students. These scholarships are usually granted in collaboration with other national governments or by private organisations. For example, the Cuban government offers merit-based scholarships to Cuban university students as well as qualified international students. In Barbados, universities, the government, and other institutions offer a variety of scholarships to international students, national students, and citizens of Barbados.
The best way to find these scholarships is by doing research on the available scholarships in your home country. Most of these scholarships advertise their application periods on their websites, so be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date information on application deadlines and other important information.