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SVGCC Associate Degrees not yet accredited, but still useful – Scott

SVGCC Associate Degrees not yet accredited, but still useful – Scott

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Repeating what has been said by officials of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) since 2010, Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel told Parliament on Monday that none of the 22 Associate Degree programmes offered by the college are accredited.

And, the director of the St Vincent {{more}}and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) is adamant that this does not mean that the Associate Degree programmes are not valuable.

In a written statement to SEARCHLIGHT (see full statement on Page 23), Nigel Scott asserted: “Not being accredited does not mean that the programmes cannot get you anywhere and will not get you time off at university… Just ask the hundreds of Vincentians who graduated from the University of the West Indies prior to its accreditation a few years ago.”

He explained that the SVGCC is seeking institutional accreditation, which is lengthy and can take several years.

“In the interim, our articulation agreements ensure our students matriculate into institutions of higher learning and often receive advanced placement.”

Scott outlined that the SVGCC has signed articulation agreements with UWI, UTECH, Munroe College and Jamaica Theological Seminary, among others.

“These articulation agreements will ensure that these institutions will accept our students without question, regardless of whether the programmes are accredited or not.”

Last Monday, September 21, responding to a question posed by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel said that in 2012, the SVGCC started seeking accreditation from the National Accreditation Board of St Vincent and the Grenadines and was awarded pre-accreditation status in November 2013.

Currently, the board is conducting a series of visits to the SVGCC, which began on September 8 and will culminate next month.

The Minister outlined the process of accreditation, explaining that it is a “process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated by an independent body, such as an accreditation council or an accreditation board.”

Some of the accreditation bodies within the Caribbean are: the University Council of Jamaica, the Barbados Accreditation Council, the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago, and the National Accreditation Board of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Noting that the process of gaining accreditation is “relatively new” in the Caribbean, Miguel pointed out that none of the community colleges within the OECS (and many others in the wider region) have yet gained accreditation.

In an interview with IKTV last year October, Pro Vice-Chancellor for undergraduate studies at UWI Professor Alan Cobley explained that UWI only achieved accreditation status in 2009/2010.

Cobley further elaborated that despite the SVGCC not being accredited, UWI recognizes the Associate Degree programmes (at SVGCC) for matriculation. He said that advanced standing (students given credits and exemptions) is granted to those programmes which have been assessed by the university for that purpose.

Miguel also stated that there are two types of accreditation; namely, institutional and specialized/professional/programmatic.

Institutional accreditation is achieved by a college/university that “meets the quality standards and fulfills the requirements designated by the accreditation institution”.

She added: “Institutional accre­ditation affirms that the college or university operates with a high level of quality in all aspects.”

Specialized/professional/programmatic accreditation is a type of status that is designated to “specialized departments, programmes, schools or colleges within a college or university that may have already been awarded institutional accreditation”.

This type of accreditation status recognizes particular “aspects of quality” in the academic fields of engineering, nursing, law or education, among others.

Miguel emphasised: “I wish us to understand that the process of accreditation cannot be rushed!”

In his statement, Scott also added: “…the SVGCC has made a clear case for why its Associate Degree programmes are of value. The SVGCC still has a long way to go, but we are on the right path. We need the support and encouragement and helpful criticism of all citizens to keep us moving in the right direction. The last thing we need is a student body that is stirred into unnecessary panic by inaccuracies in the information received. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Education, the National Accreditation Board and all other willing stakeholders to strengthen our structures and systems for the benefit of all Vincentians.” (JSV)

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