A year shy of its 50th anniversary, the Barbados Community College (BCC) is seeking official certification proving that it satisfies the requirements of a modern international tertiary institution.
Principal Dr Ian Austin said for the past nine months the college has been preparing for its accreditation with the Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC), including registering with the local accredition body.
Austin said 11 criteria must be met, among them admission policies, educational programmes, physical plant and equipment, finances, student support services and staffing and professional development.
“Ultimately the real test in the accreditation process is that the college conducts its business and affairs in accordance with the expectations of a modern college or university and that is in the best interest of the students,” the BCC principal told Barbados TODAY.
The University of the West Indies is currently the only accredited tertiary institution here, and Austin said it was no longer acceptable to get by without accreditation. Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic are also required to start the process.
There are serious implications for unaccredited institutions, he said, such as the inability to gain educational discounts for equipment and software, and the reluctance of some institutions to align themselves with unaccredited colleges.
The principal said there had been instances where students had been put at a disadvantage when pursuing higher education outside of the region, especially when it came to course exemptions, because the college is not accredited.
All of this will change when it gets the seal of approval by the BAC.
“It’s a major achievement and I think the real value and benefit resides with the students.
“This is so important in the history of the college for our students,” Austin said.
In 2015, the college introduced ten undergraduate degree programmes to its curriculum, including nursing, graphic design, and media and journalism, and plans to launch a further eight next year.
Stating that the college intended to create “the distinctive BCC student” in line with the island’s strategic direction, the princial said programme expansion and development would be key to ensuriing that graduates are better equipped and skilled in both theory and competency.
“We’re aligning the college’s work with the strategic direction of the country . . . to move Barbados forward,” he said.
Austin named staff commitment and a solid structure of governance as some of BCC’s strengths, while inadequate campus facilities was deemed a weakness.
However, he emphasized that all the work being put into rebranding the college would be futile without accreditation.
The BAC registration team will visit the BCC’s Hospitality Institute and the Eyrie campus from April 10 to 12, 2017 to meet with staff, students, and the Board of Management to gain an in-depth understanding of the functioning of the college.