St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College students. (IWN file photo)

Hundreds of students who have completed associate degrees at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College and those currently enrolled there are now learning that their programmes may not be accredited by any institution outside of the country.

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace broke the news this week that the two-year diploma, which is into its sixth year, is not accredited by the University of the West Indies (UWI) or any recognised tertiary institution.

“For the record the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College is not on the UWI list of accepted tertiary institutions in any of the campus territories. Not accepted in Jamaica, not accepted in Trinidad not accepted in Barbados,” Eustace told a media conference on Wednesday.

“This means that if you have an associate degree from the Community College and you wish to go to UWI, the university will not give any credit to your degree. You will not get into the school on the basis of that qualification, and you will not get time off as a result of having an associate degree,” he said, speaking on the issue for a second time, after mentioning it on his radio programme on Monday.

The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the only time the associate degree becomes accredited is after accreditation has been granted and this “therefore cannot be applied retroactively”.

Over 1,000 students are said to have registered for or completed the associate degree programme at the SVGCC, which is offered in 16 subject areas.

I-Witness News understands that just over 200 students are currently enrolled for the programme, and many would graduate in a few months with certificates that Eustace said “are not worth the paper they are written on”.

He said that students have put in a lot of time and effort into making a better life for themselves and parents have spent thousands of dollars in helping their children do this, but all this will be wasted time and monies in the absence of proper accreditation of the Community College.

He further said that any post-secondary institution worth its salt that wishes to confer degrees and associate degrees on its students must apply for and receive accreditation for those degrees.

He explained that the application by the institution, in this case the Community College, must not only be done locally, but must be done with universities regionally and internationally, which they expect their students to attend.

From the time the college was expanded in 2009 to include offering associate degrees, the accreditation of the college and its programmes became a must, Eustace told the press conference.

He told I-Witness News separately on Wednesday that when opposition senator, Vynnette Frederick contacted the Community College on the matter, she was rebuffed by someone whom he described as “being rude”.

He said the Community College had misled the students into believing that the programme was accredited by posting information on its website.

“The college website does nothing to explain accreditation and its importance. It does not say that its associate degrees are not accredited. It advertises that it has accredited programme and when you call, they direct you to the UWI franchise arrangement which they have with St. Augustine campus only, and only for one level of one course — BSc in social sciences. So the website misleads you into thinking that all of the courses are accredited…

“This is not true. When you ask what is the state of accreditation, the school says they are working on it,” Eustace pointed out.

“This is not a revolution, this is revolting and an insult to our youth,” Eustace said.

When asked at a press conference on Tuesday about the situation, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said he had been asked about the development on Monday, but didn’t have an opportunity to find out about it from the college, since the director was not available when he called.

“I would expect that what is the normal thing is that the Community College, which is authorised by law to issue associate degrees and even degrees, that they will make sure that their authorisation which they have by law, they would double check it too with the Accreditation Board,” Gonsalves said.

“I would expect that that would be the normal thing to do. … If there is any truth in this, that a matter which can be easily corrected,” he said, but did not say how it is to be corrected.

Diplomas are generally not accredited retroactively.

The development comes even as the Ministry of Education and the National Accreditation Board has repeatedly warned Vincentians to ensure that tertiary level institutions are accredited before enrolling for their programmes.

“When it comes to education at that level, we have to be sure that the certification that is offered is conferred by an accredited institution, whether this institution is based in St Vincent and the Grenadines or abroad…” Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist said on the issue in May.

I-Witness News was unsuccessful, up to the time of publishing this article, in its attempts to get a response from the College.

22 replies on “Are SVG Community College associate degrees accredited?”

  1. Just one more example of why we are sometimes called the “Third World’s Third World.”

    Most of our “pharmacists” are not trained, degreed, and certified pharmacists; many other quasi-medical personnel have bogus or uncertified credentials; our hairdressers, driver instructors, mechanics, electricians, and most of our chefs are all unlicensed and uncertified; most of our lawyers do not have university degrees in law, just certificates earned in a short time in England; we may even have a few “doctors” — as we have had in the past — with bogus medical degrees.

    Still, we should take considerable pride in the fact that we are building a certified, accredited, genuine world class airport at Argyle!

    1. Daughter of Sweet SVG says:

      How offensive you are, C.Ben David.
      Your post stating that “most’ pharmacists etc are not trained…can you prove this? As ‘ most ‘ implies a majority, meaning a number that will constitute more than 50% of the whole.
      I am new to this local internet forum, but your persistent negative, malicious posts made me feel compelled to respond.
      Where do you hide?
      What positive contribution have you made to this small country of ours.
      Prove that you are a patriot and not just a tired troll!

    2. Pat Robinson-Commissiong says:

      C ben-David, pharmacists are trained. It is not necessary to have a “degree” in everything; we are not all going to be academics. For some activities and occupations a certificate or a diploma might be what is required; however that too is a form of “training”. You cannot just set up your shingle and say “I am a pharmacist”; you do have to be qualified. And I don’t know what other “quasi-medical” persons you are speaking about. Radiographers? Physiotherapists? Nurses? When last I checked they are all trained. It is true that we do not have a certification process for hairdressers, and one can call oneself a “mechanic” without any training other than working with another mechanic since there is no illegality in using the designation if one is not trained as is the case with doctors and lawyers. But there is training for mechanics and electricians at the Technical College and the best mechanics and electricians have been trained and have their certificates.
      At one time lawyers did not have to have a degree, but now they do. And to say that some do not have a degree in law is to display your own ignorance about the academic process. A degree is law is just that – a degree. Very different from the professional training. At UWI you do the law degree and then the professional training. In the UK you can do any degree and then do a shorter than degree programme to qualify you to do the professional training. The thinking behind this is that a University training, whatever the degree, equips you with certain intellectual skills which you can then apply in various situations. So they do not require you to start from scratch to do another first degree. Rather you do what is called a “conversion course” which provides you with specific legal knowledge – think of it as “advanced placement” in the law programme. It works with other courses as well dear ben-David. You can do an undergraduate course in one subject and move on to post graduate work in another subject area, having done a year or so on the basics of your new area of study. Universities do not require you to do a BA/BSc in a succession of subjects. Once you complete one degree they assume that you have a proficiency in the requisite intellectual skills to learn another subject. They may of course be wrong in some cases – but that is true whatever you do, even if the degree is law degree. You can do even that and still not have acquired the love of learning that will keep you up to date on legal or any other developments in our world.

  2. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

    That statement by Dr Gonsalves looks like hie usual obfuscation of the issue. Let’s look at it:
    “I would expect that what is the normal thing is that the Community College, which is authorised by law to issue associate degrees and even degrees, that they will make sure that their authorisation which they have by law, they would double check it too with the Accreditation Board,”

    The Community College is “authorised by law to issue associate degrees and even degrees”. That’s not the point. Which law? A law of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Nobody outside of SVG cares which law or how many laws of SVG authorise the Community College to offer degrees. The point is that any such degrees, whether associate of full degrees, have to be recognised by educational institutions in the countries where Vincentian holders of such Community College degrees want to further their education. The SVG Accreditation Board, to which the words “they would double check with the Acreditation Board” refer, is not the body that can give the College accreditation in the eyes of institutions in other countries. That requires recognition not by SVG’s Accreditation Board but by the accreditation boards of the relevant countries. If this were not so then any country could set up its own accreditation board and tell everyone else “You must recognise our degrees because we recognise them”, regardless of the quality of the “degree”. That is why, when we set up the Caribbean Examinations Council it was done with the active so-operation of the organisations which run SAT tests in the US and General Certificates of Education in the UK. That way Caribbean Examination Council’s certificates were recognised from the beginning as the equivalent of British GCEs, the secondary school leaving qualification we had before.

    And I do not for a moment think that Dr Gonsalves does not know this – which is why I say he is just trying to obfuscate the issue. I assume also, that all the top officials in the Ministry of Education as well know this. But expecting them to say anything, or to insist that that anything like the proper accreditation process be carried out, when the Official Position is that these are “accredited degrees”, is past praying for.

    I have to confess that I always assumed that these were UWI accredited associate degrees. I just never imagined the possibility that we could be offering “associate degrees’ that were recognised as such be no one other than ourselves. That is the issue that Dr Gonslaves and the Minister of Education need to clarify. Not the “law” that suthorised the Community College to offer such degrees, nor what the SVG Accreditation Board says.

  3. And he wants to bring hundreds of Ecuadorians here and give them a worthless degree in teaching English.

    He is responsible for every inch of SVG and is the leader of the Education revolution.

    I personally think its time to string him up by the bollocks.

    I suppose he will put a Bill through parliament and give it the Gonsalves twist by making it retroactive like all the others that he has rammed us up with.

    The problem is that this accreditation has to come from and be recognised by the UWI, not from the old ULP lawyer cronies huddled around a table at Cane Gardens late on a Sunday night.

    We should also ask about the accreditation of Medical Students?

    1. Isn’t time “Peter Binose” to come clean and stop hiding behind this phoney name. What he/she is forever doing is to demonstrate his/her utter hate for the ULP leader. His/her latest piece even want to resort to violence i.e. ‘stick it’.

      1. If the facts and issues are real, the person real name is irrelevant as they are not seeking formal recognition or awards.
        The Goal should be to Fix the Issue not Fix the individual

  4. Just at the time when you think that it can’t get worse, then something jump up and hit you. My question is this what opposition politics are about? Always digging dirt.

    I’m surprised that SVG functioning at all, ’cause I’ve never heard the NDP say one positive thing taking place there. What a pity.

    1. What I always find funny is that in 2000 was perfectly OK and necessary for the then opposition to do nothing but “digging dirt” and never say anything positive, that was the only way forward……..BUT now, when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s completely unacceptable…..Oh Please……address the facts.

      1. Hi ‘OK Then’, in all honesty, I’m an outside observer and cannot go back to 2000 or before that. Therefore as an outsider and objective observer what I speak on is anecdotal evidence and I’m Vincentian living abroad and never voted at home (too young to do so when I left). Don’t carry a membership card of any party at home nor have I ever sought favour(s) of any kind of the NDP or ULP, and I’ve been as critical of the latter as the former which many at home and abroad can’t and won’t do so because of vested interest. So, I have no fear in speaking from an objective and neutral view point, which I believe I did.

  5. What is the government doing to help rectify this gross error? How will the students/people be compensated for all the hours they have invested into obtaining an Associate Degree?

  6. As far as I know, accreditation of an institution’s programs is a process that must begin after a batch or two (or three) of students has graduated from the institution. I’m surprised you well read individuals don’t know this. Also, as a recent graduate of the community college I know that the University of the West Indies offers course exemptions for level one courses with some of our associate degrees. In any case, the worth of the graduate is not in the institution but in his or her quest for knowledge and application of what he or she has learned. So yes, no matter where you go as long as you prove yourself intelligent and driven, why should you be encumbered. I’m a proud graduate of SVGCC and my degree is worth the paper is printed on ….and so much more

    1. Well said and written young one and like you I’ve studied and achieved and have two post graduate. I didn’t go on to do things some people think I should; but the value to me is proving to myself that I can do so in an educational institution. Rather than being proud and congratulate the hundreds of people like you, the NDP leader and his cohorts see it fit to demean yours and the institution’s achievement with their dirty politics. Well done to you, the others like you and to the institution and staff..

    2. “In any case, the worth of the graduate is not in the institution but in his or her quest for knowledge and application of what he or she has learned.” – So the governemnt should formally drop degree requirements from all of it job requirement, hire by blindly assuming everyone has learned what’s needed for a particular job.

  7. Ok first thing is first this is not a parlimentarian thing its not about ULP or NDP, instead of U????? people always trying to take sides on any matter by turning to parliment ya’ll should really stop and think for a moment its not abt the fact that the opposition leader is negative or whatever the fact is he pointed it out which is very vital information if U????? are happy abt wasting money and time and getting a piece of paper that may not be valued then by all means U????? think that way. The fact of the matter is what it is “ASSOCIATES DEGREES ARE NOT ACCREDITED” and it goes to show how much effiency the college wants to put in terms of collecting fees for everything Eg Course Registration and Exam fees and in the long run not holding their end of the bargin up they even go so far as to keep gradution fees that some people may have worked hard to get and still not being able to gradute because U????? may have failed one or 2 courses, I was a victim of that college and on a personal not I’m glad they are getting what comes to them they too as Vincentian Slang goes” Dey 2 damn thief and rascal” so it was only a matter of time before someone uncovered something when U????? go to the colleges you hear its only in U????? best intrest but as far as I can see the only intrest its best […]
    Now in regards to not being personal about the situation its sad for the peoples who spent 2 years and wasted scammed money to find this out and this should be retified along with every other crooked loop hole the colleges not college, Colleges have

  8. Oh how I love the lyrics from “suicide” …. it ain’t the gun, its the man behind the trigger, gets blood on his finger and runs…. Needless to say all this talk about accreditation I wonder besides the person who is either related to or affiliated with the opposition leader how many person have really thought about the students? The learned do know the accreditation process and trusf me for education some people volunteer to be guniea pigs but the biggest insult is what students have to endure in the name of the education revolution. What we have to be subjected to by lecturers who purport to be professional and whom the institution empower.
    I can only speak from where I sit in the performing arts class where if not for the love of art and the belief that I CAN eat culture and pretty soon will ensure other artists do I will allow the likes of the college and some of the incompetencies determine my worth and future.
    If you want to know how students feel take a walk down the dark and musty halls of svgcc and have a chat with some of the ambitious and hard working part-time students.

  9. With all due respect, I would like to instruct the public that UWI and other educational institutions are not accreditation agencies. SVG’s National Accreditation Board recognized the College as an accredited educational institution after due processes were followed.

    Secondly, to the best of my knowledge, I do believe that many College graduates are currently pursuing studies at UWI and have been so ever since we had a Sixth Form – without any problems – once they meet the requirements.

    This question should have been taken up first with College Administration before this public alarm was raised. I am NOT speaking on behalf of the College Administration, just on my own.

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      Mercedes Moss, may I suggest that you look up the meaning of “accredit”? I think you will find definitions like “accepted as true”, “certified as meeting official requirements”, “certified as valid”, “certified officially”. The Accreditation Board is called an accreditation board BECAUSE it certifies the degrees. It is not an accreditation board because no one else can accredit a degree – in the sense of certifying that degrees for official purpose. The question you should ask is “for whom does the SVG Accreditation Board certify the degrees?” It can only be for St Vincent since, until others accept the validity of our Accreditation Board’s certification (and there is no law saying that they have to do so), they will not accept the “degree” that the SVG Accreditation Board accredits. So to say that only the Accreditation Board can accredit the Associate degrees, and that UWI and other institutions are not “accreditation agencies” is pure semantics. The UWI and all Universities can, and do, “certify for official purposes” – their own official purposes – the degrees and certificates of other institutions like the SVGCC. In fact UWI does “approve for official purposes” several tertiary institutions in the region. However, as the Pro Vice Chancellor for Admissions at the Cave Hill campus has since admitted, the SVGCC is NOT as yet an approved tertiary institution for the UWI’s “official purposes”. And yes, students of the SVGCC have gone on to UWI to pursue degrees. But that has been either on the basis of courses – education and nursing, for example – that WERE approved by UWI as meeting its entry requirements, or because they held Caribbean Examinations Council’s Advanced Proficiency certificates – which are part of UWI’s entry requirements. If an institution takes the CAPE syllabus, teaches to that syllabus, but sets and marks its own exams and calls that an “Associate Degree”, as I was told that the SVGCC has been doing, then that will not necessarily be accepted and meeting UWI’s entry requirements. And it doesn’t really matter what SVG’s Accreditation Board says. SVG’s Accreditation Board is not UWI’s accreditation board, and neither UWI nor any other University has to accept what SVG’s Accreditation Board says. UWI accepts CAPE because UWI was closely involved in the setting up of the Caribbean Examinations Council and used to have, and probably still has (although I haven’t checked this recently), representatives on the governing body of the CXC. It can therefore monitor the Council’s activities, and the quality of its certificates. So that when UWI accepts (accredits?) those certificates as meeting its entry requirements (official purposes?) it does so with an assurance that such potential students can cope with the academic requirements of the University,

  10. I think before people jumping on a side or believing any side of this story they should first know what is the meaning of the following in the context of the issue at hand:

    1. Accreditation
    2. Matriculation

    (hope I spelt them correctly)

    I know its I-witness news job to report the news but it is also the readers job to do our own insight into the topic at hand.

    I too was one of them saying OMG I don’t believe the CC doing this. But after reading the response from the College and the UWI it brings another twist to the tale.

    Regards

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      “Accreditation” is a process by which an institutions certificates and/or degrees are accepted by others. To prevent confusion it might be better to keep the term ‘accreditation” to the process by which the institutions courses are “passed” by what is called the “Accreditation Board” i the Host country, and use the term “acceptance” or “approval” for the process by which the courses are passed by outside institutions. In both cases somebody/bodies is/are approving the courses of study and accepting the end qualifiacations. But we can get confused between “accreditation” by SVG’s Accreditation Board and “accreditation” by external institutions. The SVG Accreditation Board may “accredit” a course or a degree at the SVG Community College. That does not mean that the UWI or any other institution will accept the course as either meeting their entry requirements much less to qualify the applicant for exemption from any of their courses.
      “Matriculation” is entry into a University. Like many of the terms we get from the oldest European Universities, it comes from a Latin word – in this case a register (matricula). Your name is entered into the register of “junior members” of the University, i.e the undergraduates, when you are admitted. “Senior members” are graduates. So the matriculation qualifications are whatever is required for entry into the University. But note that if you have the qualifications for matriculation that does not GUARANTEE you admission. The matriculation requirements are the minimum that you must have. If there are more applicants than the places available you are highly unlikely to get in if all you have are the minimum requirements. If you want to go to any of the top Universities anywhere, you’d better have more that the minimum. In fact, in order to differentiate between applicants all of whom may have the highest possible grades, Ivy League Universities and State Universities in the USA that are comparable to Ivy League Universities will require you to have done Advanced Placement subjects at High School (something like our Certificate of Advanced Proficiency) and they will also consider what extra-curricular activities you have undertaken, require you to write an essay saying why you want to come to the particular institution and to attend an interview. The same is true of the top European universites. Some Faculties at UWI will interview a short list of applicants, because they now get so many candidates with 4 As at CAPE. So if the SVGCC student wants to entry a faculty with lots of applicants he/she had better forget the “Matriculation requirements’ and aim far higher.
      And the College’s reply doesn’t really help with this. The reply talks about what pertains to students entering Monroe College. So I went to Monroe College’s web site as I had never heard of them. From that web site it seems to me that Monroe College is a vocational school that has been authorised by the State Board to grant full degrees in certain specified subjects. It is not a top flight University. It’s entry requirements are therefore likely to be much lower that those of a University. You will get in having graduated from High School (our CXC General Proficiency is accepted as the equivalent of High School graduation in the US). It is therefore not comparable to UWI which requires at least 2 Advanced Proficiency subjects as well further as General Proficiency subjects. So to tell us that students have been given advanced placement at Monroe College is neither here nor there when we are talking about entry to UWI. The minimum entry requirements are different, and so one only confuses the SVGCC students when you talk about the two in the same context.
      And the SVGCC is not yet an “approved tertiary institution” for UWI (there are several in the Caribbean that have been approved, but SVGCC is not on that list). UWI has approved certain courses, nursing and teaching for example but the majority are yet to be approved – which again the College’s reply does not make clear. So the students continue to believe that not only will they gain entry to UWI with these courses bu that they will also gain “advanced placement” i.e exemption from first year courses at UWI. That is misleading the students in a totally reprehensible way.

    2. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      I should add for those reading alll this who do not know what is meant by a GPA of 2.5 or 2.7 – this is the Grade Point Average. You get 4 points for an A, 3 for a B, 2 for a C and 1 for a D. The average of all these points is your Grade Point Average. UWI’s minimum is 2.5. A person with four As in four CAPE subjects has a GPA of 4. There is a BIG difference in the performance of someone with 2.5 GPA and someone with 4GPA – which is why I said that if all you have is the minimum for an over subscribed course you are unlikely to get in

  11. After reading this article, I have to agree with Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace 100%. To summarize everything, its very sad to see my own people put out their hard efforts for nothing. I will encourage every student to get out of the Caribbean mentality because even if you go to UWI, its still not accredited to the rest of the world. So in short its a waste of time getting a degree from UWI because its only recognize ONLY in the Caribbean.

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