Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel. (IWN file photo)

Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, says officials at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) should apologise to the nation in light of the admission by Minister of Education, Girlyn Miguel, that none of the college’s associate degree programmes are accredited.

“I think the people at the college owe the nation an apology for the amount of lies that were told on that matter,” Eustace said on his New Democratic Party’s radio programme on Tuesday.

“People have spent hard-earned money in difficult economic and financial circumstances to give their children a better start in life in terms of university education only to find out you are doing it on a false premise. I take very strong objection to that,” Eustace said.

His comments came one day after Miguel told parliament that the associate degrees at the college only have pre-accreditation.

None of the associate degree programmes awarded by the Community College are accredited. (IWN photo)
None of the associate degree programmes awarded by the Community College are accredited. (IWN photo)

The revelation, during her response to a question from Eustace, came one year after a firestorm erupted after Eustace questioned publicly the status of the associate degree programme at the post-secondary institution.

In his question on Monday, Eustace asked Miguel to tell lawmakers how many of the 22 associate degrees at the college are accredited.

Miguel said that accreditation is a relatively new process in the Caribbean, adding that none of the community colleges in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean are accredited and this is the case in most of the region.

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Speaking on the path to accreditation in SVG, Miguel said that in 2012 the SVGCC began the process of seeking institutional accreditation from the National Accreditation Board of SVG.

In November 2013, the SVGCC was granted pre-accreditation status through its successful registration with the National Accreditation Board, she said.

On Sept. 8 this year, the board began carrying out a series of visits to the college, which will end in October.

“Following these visits, the Community College will continue on its self study, which is aimed at strengthening its policies and procedures to ensure that quality is maintained in all of its operations.

“The results of the national accreditation board visit will guide this process. Until this process is complete and the national accreditation board awards accredited status to the Community College, the institution cannot be described as an accredited one and neither can its associate degrees be described as accredited.

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable members, I wish us to understand that the process of accreditation cannot be rushed,” Miguel told Parliament.

In a supplementary question, Eustace said that the bottom line of the question is how many associate degrees at the SVGCC are accredited, whether it is institutional or otherwise.

“Honourable Member, I just explained that the college has pre-accreditation status but the process continues and until the board tell us, then that it would be,” Miguel said.

Eustace responded: “None are accredited? That is the bottom line question.”

“Honourable member, I think I have spoken simple English,” Miguel said.

“We are pre-accredited so none are accredited,” Eustace said in response.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

Speaking on his New Democratic Party’s radio programme on Tuesday, Eustace said that there is no particular benefit in terms of discounted time at university for students with associate degrees issued by the Community College.

“They don’t have less time, they don’t get a year off or anything like that, in terms of their university degree, which is the story they (college officials) were giving people all along. And that is why we had raised it last year.

“And now you have an admission that none — I thought that at least some were accredited. But the Minister of Education is saying that none of the 22 is accredited,” Eustace said.

“And those parents have spent a lot of money on those courses in the belief that their children will get off something in terms of their university training. And we find out yesterday, for the first time — and this is the point we have been making for months, for more than a year and you can’t get information, all you are getting is false information from the college itself. All kinds of stories which they knew were not true. And now that the question is put definitively to the Minister of Education, who is Deputy Prime Minister, we are finding that they are not accredited.”

“This is a terrible thing,” Eustace said, adding that people have spent between EC$8,000 and EC$9,000 to finance the associate degrees.

“… and what do you get for it?” he said, adding that students were told they will get discount on the time they spend in university doing degrees or at least in some of the courses.

“Now, it seems that you will not have it in any of the 22 courses that are being offered by the Community College at this time,” he said.

4 replies on “Community College associate degree not accredited”

  1. The whole community college idea has been a waste of time and money. Qualified students should be taking the UWI courses offered at our local campus or go overseas for their education at proper institutions.

    This whole “education revolution” idea has been the greatest national fraud next to the Argle airport scam.

  2. I don’t know that the whole Community College idea was a waste of time and money. It’s what they are trying to do with it now and the misinformation that they have been putting out that’ s the problem,
    It makes sense in a small country like SVG, with roughly 116,000 souls, to combine teaching beyond the secondary school leaving examination (GCE-Ordinary Level when we used the UK examination boards, and now CSEC from our own Caribbean examination board) in one institution. To run a diverse group of subjects in each secondary school would be a very expensive undertaking for a small country. To teach the natural sciences, for example, requires labs. Art and music require specialized rooms. All subjects require a well stocked library or financial provision to subscribe to on-line book sources (basic texts plus additional reference books do not come free on-line – the institution has to subscribe to these sources). Even placing the whole range of teachers in each secondary school would be in itself expensive. So having one Sixth Form College makes sense both in terms of finance and in terms of the range of subjects that could realistically be offered.
    However we then started offering what we claimed, at least up to last year, were courses which would provide our students with credits towards their university degrees. This can be done – and it would indeed save some money for our students as they could remain at home for the equivalent of their first year. But to do that you have to work in close collaboration with the University/s to which you hope to send the students. Even now we are talking as if getting accreditation from our national accreditation board is all that is required. If tertiary institutions at home in the Caribbean or abroad do not trust our accreditation board we can accredit as much as we like, and those institutions will still not accept our students with exemptions from their first year courses. And if our national accreditation board is now going through the process of accrediting these associate degrees, then we still do not know whether, at the end of this process, UWI or any other tertiary institution will grant exemptions for our students. I well remember one UWI staff member pointing out that it is up the the Head of each department to state which courses will be accepted as the equivalent of the first year courses in his/her department. So one of the things we have to ensure is that our national accreditation board is “accrediting” courses to a standard acceptable to the various tertiary institutions to which our students aspire. It is not just something internal to SVG, as some writers seemed to be saying when this whole issue was first hotly discussed. Given our population size and GDP level we really do not have the resources to run our own Vincentian university – at least not one that could award degrees that anyone else would recognize. So what we do here must be acceptable to the regional or foreign tertiary institutions.

  3. So Sister Girlyn you mean to tell me that after all the acting and insults by the PM that the opposition leader was right? You all have no shame. How could you be tearing down a man all this time and fully well know that he’s been right all along. Just ring the bell.

  4. Can someone please explain to me why Ms Miguel still has a job in any Ministry much less the Education Ministry?

    Thankfully, at the time that I went to the Community College, Associate Degrees were not being offered. As many today did, I believe that I would have used that avenue to start my undergraduate studies as, in principle, it represents a cheaper alternative than going abroad to study for 3 years and having to pay for the full length of the course plus accommodation.

    I do empathise with the students, and their parents, who would have invested time and money into a ‘course’ only to not have anything to show for it.

    Is the government now going to refund the monies which they took from the students and/or their parents?

    How can you have an educational institution, also a government institution, taking money from the public who believe that they are undertaking accredited courses, while all along they (government & institution) knew that this was not the case. At the very least, this is fraud. Worse still, it represents the contempt in which these people, who we elected, must hold us as Vincentians in.

    The ones who will most likely pursue an Associate Degree at the Community College will be the individuals who cannot afford to immediately go abroad and study. The ones who are trying to better themselves. As I write this I am saddened by the thought. $8,000 is not a small sum of money which the average Vincentian has lying around. Some of them are probably in debt for these courses.

    So politics aside, now that the Government has admitted that the Students and/or their parents have been swindled, are they at least going to reimburse them.

    You cannot recoup the time they have lost studying but please, at least give them their money back.

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