Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Accreditation, capital works, and new academic programmes are among the major initiatives occurring at the University of The Bahamas.
Dr Rodney Smith, president, said work has already “aggressively” begun on some of the institution’s “most important goals” and highlighted the changes at a media information meeting held last week at the Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute, University of The Bahamas (UB).
“We are taking on four major institution-wide initiatives, simultaneously, not to prove that we could, but rather because they all feed into one equation; an equation that results in increased efficiency, effectiveness and viability,” said Smith. The four major initiatives are institutional accreditation, a university strategic plan, an institution-wide data management system, and a capital campaign.
In order to attract new students and retain those presently enrolled for post-graduate study, UB is creating a five-year master’s in Architecture programme, a six-year doctorate of Pharmacy programme, a five-year MBA and other executive development certification programmes.
“The university’s main focus will be on reaching all Bahamians. Last summer we introduced the highly successful Summer Bridging Programme, which served to bridge the gap for students who did not complete their high school education or lacked the requisite national exam passes for direct entry into the university. We had an 80% success rate with the first cohort. These students gained successful admission to the University,” said Smith.
High on the agenda for UB is the provision of adequate facilities for students, faculty and staff. They include the ground-breaking of a 1,000-bed residence hall complex at UB’s Oakes Field Campus in 2017, and completion of the construction of residence halls in Grand Bahama.
Of the 1000-bed residence hall at Oakes Field Campus, Smith said: “This new building will do much more than provide necessary housing for our growing main campus. It will help to make this campus more internationally appealing as we provide degree programmes that will be of interest to international students. This 21st century style of living on campus will help us to attract, retain and grow our Family Island numbers as well as international student populations. We will have both accreditation and housing working together to help make our student population more diverse.
“However, one of the most important things that residence halls do for a campus is to significantly develop a healthy and exciting living and learning environment. For too long we have essentially been a commuter campus. Having students live on campus will be a real investment in developing the type of thriving campus life that distinguishes other universities. More importantly, creating a residential campus will increase retention and progress toward graduation.”
UB students will also be required to complete a study abroad experience by the end of their junior year. The primary requirement is that all students must complete their senior and final year at the University of The Bahamas in order to graduate.
The process to become accredited at both national and international levels has already begun. Smith announced that he is currently serving on the National Accreditation & Equivalency Council of The Bahamas, which is a body that is charged with determining and setting quality standards for higher education in The Bahamas.
“Internationally, we have initiated application for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS accreditation is one of the most stringent accrediting bodies in the United States, and perhaps the world, given how many universities around the world are now seeking SACS accreditation, including UWI.
“Acquisition of this accreditation will ensure that the University raises and maintains standards of quality and accountability across all levels of the institution.
“As we grow our graduate programmes, we will also attract graduate students to The Bahamas for advanced degrees. For instance, we intend to create what I call hybrid graduate studies. For example, we are a small island developing state, an archipelagic country, with resources not found anywhere else in the world. We have the opportunity to offer graduate studies in Small Island Sustainable Development, allowing graduate students the opportunity to spend a semester at the Gerace Research Institute in San Salvador, a semester at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, a semester at BAMSI, and finally a semester at the GTR Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex at the main campus here in Nassau, completing either a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation.”
Smith said that in October of last year UB introduced the most sophisticated data management system used by leading colleges and universities around the world, known as Banner.
He said, “Banner is designed to “enable the most critical needs and processes in an institution.” It will definitely take the university to the highest level in terms of how we serve our students, how we attract talent and how we manage our finances and all other administrative issues. It will also move us towards paperless transactions.”