Plans are afoot for upgrading the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College [SALCC] from a ‘community college’ to a university college.
Over the years, this issue has been on the national agenda for academic development in the country. And it now appears that more effort is being made to bring this venture to fruition.
According to SALCC Principal, Dr. Keith Nurse, the transition to a community college is geared to provide students here and from the wider region with an opportunity to attain higher education.
Dr. Nurse indicated that the expansion would entail providing higher learning courses for students, as there is a demand for a supply of higher education in the region.
“It’s all part of the shift or the pivotal wave from the community college model to university model,” he explained, during an NTN inclusive.
“The college has been operating with the community college model, which is premised on being a feeder to other institutions,” he added. The SALCC currently offers a two-year Associate Degree, before students matriculate to the university level.
Dr. Nurse commented on the economic hardships that students experience to pursue their studies at a neighbouring academic institution and having to bear the expenses for travel, accommodation and other requirements.
In the past, government representatives and education officials have hinted at the feasibility of making tertiary education more accessible to the local citizenry.
“You have accepted that a large share of your population can’t move on to complete their tertiary education,” he continued. “So the community college model is something that has served a useful purpose, but it’s time not just in St Lucia but throughout the whole OECS to upgrade out of that framework.”
As a result of the covid-19 crisis, demands have arisen for innovative courses and the SALCC has added some new programs to its itinerary. The courses include; Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and Bachelor’s Degree in Tertiary Education, as well as four additional Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health, Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality, Business Administration and Innovation and Environmental Studies and Sustainability.
Referring to the sustainable development courses, Dr Nurse stated, they would play a critical role to assist especially small island states overcome the Covid-19 hardships.
“It’s a critical area for St Lucia and many other small developing states, because tourism is the main driver of the economy,” he said.
Dr. Nurse also underscored the significance of making these programs accessible not only to locals, but for neighbouring students as well.
“The college had been largely premised on targeting a school leaver population, but not going after life-long learners in any significant way. We are doing that now,” he explained.
Dr. Nurse said the SALCC programmes had initially been tailored to benefit St Lucians and St Lucian students “and we are changing that very rapidly to target students in other jurisdictions.”
He said the SALCC has reached out to the neighbouring French Isles of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and are undertaking an academic project through the French Embassy “that is going to help us accelerate that process.”