ST. THOMAS – Students on the neighboring island of St. Martin can now earn a degree from the University of the Virgin Islands without leaving their home island.
UVI now has a satellite campus, located at the University of St. Martin (USM), offering academic classes to students seeking a bachelor’s or master’s degree. UVI’s satellite campus is called “UVI at USM.”
UVI entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of St. Marten (USM) to offer quality career and academic education that will provide neighboring students with a solid foundation to enter the workforce in their home island, within the wider Caribbean or abroad.
UVI also has Memoranda of Understanding with several other institutions, including The Council of Community of Colleges of Jamaica; Fielding Graduate University, California; Nantong University, China; Yangzhou University, Jiangsu, China; and the University of Nebraska.
Haldane Davies, UVI vice president of Business Development and Innovation, said the St. Martin University agreement is a different model than the other partnerships.
“This is more unique in that we have an actual presence there on the campus. We are intricately intertwined with their academic program. St. Martin University has four associate degree programs. Once students complete one of the four associate programs they can register for UVI courses and are considered UVI students.” Currently USM has 300 students in its regular academic program.
Students on St. Martin enroll in “UVI at USM” by completing the UVI admissions application, application fee, and transcripts. The UVI admissions office then registers students for their chosen classes.
St. Martin students may earn a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or master’s degree in Education from UVI. The tuition cost for a bachelor’s degree is $8,820.00, while graduate tuition is $11,562.00.
During the Fall 2015 semester, UVI offered SMU students a number of Education division courses, including “Group and Family Counseling,” “and “Curriculum Development.” Business and management course offerings included “Statistics for Management Decisions,” “Fundamentals of Finance,” and “Organizational Behavior.”
The University of St. Maarten provides classroom and office space for UVI faculty who teach the courses. UVI professors in the Business and English departments travel to St. Martin on Fridays and Saturdays to deliver face-to-face instruction. Some courses are offered online. In the future, the University hopes to offer classes via videoconference, as is currently conducted between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Approximately 20 students enrolled in UVI at SMU during the Fall 2015 semester, according to UVI Dean of Business Stephen Reames. “They are enjoying the in-person approach to instruction,” Reames said.
The Fall program was so successful, UVI has planned a number of courses for Spring 2016 including, “Foundations of Guidance,” “Theories, Strategies and Techniques of Counseling,” “Fundamentals of School Administration,” and “Labor Management Relations.”
Students enrolled in any of the courses have access to UVI resources, according to UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle.
“They are UVI students,” McKayle said. “They get UVI identification cards and they have access to the UVI library. We are always seeking way to expand services to support our UVI at USM students.”
Roberto Celestino Arrindell, is President of the St. Martin chapter of the UVI Alumni Association and a Mathematics/Education Instructor at USM. Arrindell said “UVI at USM” has been well-received by St. Martin students.
“The students love the courses and they have been readily accepted,” Arrindell said. Arrindell, the father of two UVI alumni, also helps to promote the program.
“We have been promoting UVI by accommodating from the UVI presidents to the Choir, basketball and volleyball team and distributing UVI information through pamphlets.” He also advises students who apply to UVI, and helps them through the application process.
The collaboration between UVI and USM will occur for a period of five years.
Both institutions have agreed to engage in joint recruitment activities and students will have the option of joint enrollment in academic programs that will lead to dual degrees in specific programs.
Davies said UVI plans to expand upon its academic offerings at SMU and is currently engaged in strategic planning with staff, faculty and community members on St. Martin.
“Eventually all programs available at UVI will be available at USM,” said Davies. “St. Martin welcomes the relationship from the government to the university board, community and students.”