Marine science course to be offered on the Brac

| 17/06/2011

(CNS): The UCCI Cayman Brac campus faculty is looking into offering a marine science course and hopes that, when launched, the course will not only attract local students but international students as well. However, Campus Director Martin Keeley noted that before that could happen, a science lab would have to be created, something which the campus currently lacks. He noted that the campus would need $50,000 in funds to make this a reality, for which they are seeking donations from corporations and individuals. While Keeley said details about the course are still under discussion, it is tentatively scheduled to start in January 2012 and would span two semesters.

A long time member of the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), Keeley heads the association's Caribbean chapter and noted that while the campus attracts great local students, it is a goal for the Brac UCCI to attract both international students and professors that would not normally come to the island to study and work. He said that he, a trained marine science teacher, could assist in teaching the course, but the course would require international professors to teach it alongside him.

International students who came to the Brac for the course would stay in short term rental accommodation and rent cars, and may well also dive with local diver operators, thus helping the Brac economy, Keeley said.

The NMEA member also said that the campus, which offers courses for UCCI students on the Brac, Civil Service College students as well as continuing education courses, has recently received valuable donations in the form of four new state-of-the-art computers from local law firm Maples & Calder and new books from a Canadian professor (who wishes to remain anonymous).

The college has paid for video-link technology between the Brac and Grand Cayman UCCI campuses, which has been set up in two of the Brac classrooms and allows students and professors at both campuses to communicate with each other. Keeley admitted that some students had issues with video-link classes, noting that its effective use required the student to take more responsibility for their learning in the classroom.

According to Brac UCCI figures, there are about 130 students enrolled at the campus. On average for each academic year, 40 students study in the Brac UCCI's associate degree programme, 6 in certificationteacher training programmes and legal studies programmes, 25 in the Civil Service College and 60 in continuing education courses.

Keeley said that in 2010, there were 5 graduates from the teacher training programme and 3 graduates from the legal studies programme and that, if all student pass, 2011 will see two graduates from the teacher training programme, 3 graduates from the legal studies programme, and 4 graduates from the associate degree programme. Keeley did note that around 7 or 8 students transferred from the Cayman Brac UCCI to the Grand Cayman UCCI within the last year.

Keeley, who has been Campus Director since the Brac UCCI's January 2008 opening, said that the campus enjoyed a strong start until Hurricane Paloma, a major stumbling block, which led to some students dropping out and two classrooms having to be shared with the RCIPS, limiting classroom space. However, he assured CNS that the campus was now running better than ever, especially after the Brac UCCI's move from Stake Bay to West End last year, which saved the campus a considerable amount of money in rent.

He stressed that there was great potential for the campus. The faculty is exploring the possibility of expanding its offerings to include certification courses in plumbing, construction and urban planning, which he believed would benefit both Brac school leavers and more mature students.

He also said that it was a goal of the Brac UCCI to not only attract international students and professors, but also to encourage students who dropped out of their courses after Hurricane Paloma to enroll again.

Joshua Dilbert is a Year 11 student at the Layman E. Scott Sr. High School who is working with CNS as part of the school's Worklink programme.

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  1. Frustrated says:

    To 'Green Hornet'…

    Please note that the International College of the Cayman Islands (not UCCI) traditionally offered a Saturday morning (4-hours per) marine biology, 5-credit course, at least during the 1990s!

    However, demand for the course was always minimal (even as a degree elective), and so it was always a demand/supply-based offering — if the demand was sufficient (i.e., at least ten students enrolled per time) then the course was on.

    What is even more interesting — not to mention ironic — is that it was always mostly international (expat) students who were interested enough to enrol. The same could not be said for local students, even though they always way outnumbered the expats in the total student body.

    Finally, this information is NOT heresay; I used to work there full-time and still do on a part-time basis.  ICCI was always a trail blazer, though gets little enough credit for that.

    • Green Hornet says:

      I am aware that ICCI still offers a short course on marine biology, however, I have no knowledge as to whether or not anyone has taken this course recently.

      I would also argue with Frustrated about young Caymanians interested in an in-depth course such as the one I believe UCCI hopes to offer. There are several excellent Caymanian scientists working with DOE who had to complete their marine science studies abroad as they were not offered here. The courses should also be open to expat students as well as Caymanians – we all share the same ocean after all!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This has got to be one of the most worthy causes I've heard of in a long time.  Can't the service clubs work together to organize a fundraiser to help in getting this lab?  The Rotary Club put a library in, I would think this is just the thing to unite everyone & anyone to rally to their cause!  This university is a Godsend to this island. 


  3. Anonymous says:

    Dreams Dreams Dreams – a promise is a comfort to a fool. They promise the world at UCCI Cayman Brac just to get you in and then you cant even get your associates degree in the time frame that others can because they dont offer the courses to make this a reality.

  4. Anonymous says:

    More money poured into the Brac for no realisable purpose.

    • Green Hornet says:

      The Cayman Islands is the only Caribbean country that doesn't offer any sort of courses on Marine Biology….yet are surrounded by and dependent on that ocean out there. The more we know about it, perhaps the less harm we can do to it…

      It's great that UCCI is looking at starting this course – and about time, too. We need to stop looking at the green of money as the be-all-and-end-all of everything, and started to understand the world – and in this instance, the ocean – that surrounds us.

  5. Jab-Jab says:

    Good for them all around.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What a great opertunity for Caymanians!

    Good Going Roy and Rolston, Good going Brackers, Lets make sure we can do our own EIA reporting and keep those funds at home when the first group of graduates complete this program.

    Too bad there are not any posts here to support this good thing. As you can tell, CNS and all its fans are all about negative and keeping mocking birds singing. Opps, guess I will get lots of replies now! Or will this not make it on the board?

    CNS: And where did you read about "this good thing"?