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Friday, 7 October 2011

University - a Community Business

Traditionally, universities mean a lot more than dissertations, diplomas and degrees.  They have always, in very direct and indirect ways, been a partnership with the community in which they operate.  One evidence of this partnership is the economic activity that a university generates.

When the young scholar leaves home and takes up residence on campus or in the immediate environs of the university campus, there are significant implications for the economic activity that will be generated within that region where the university does its business.  The young sage needs somewhere to live (and that place needs to be maintained), food to eat, entertainment, school supplies, transportation, medical treatment, security, hairdressing, and the list goes on.  Now, multiply that by… you supply the desired number.

Things are changing however with the growing popularity of online programme offerings, along with the establishment of satellite campuses, the proliferation of competing universities.  Movements will be curtailed or swayed, and the traditional ratio between the level of business activity within the university and the community will be distorted.  It is going to be entirely up to the private citizen who has an extra room or two to rent, or board out, business enterprises, local governments, members of parliament, and the full spectrum of the affected community to collaborate to keep traditional universities alive and viable.  They must find ways to incentivize persons choosing to physically attend universities, outside of those imperatives that would require face to face contact, team work, and lab work.  Whether the university is privately owned or government operated, a university is a community business – everyone has a vested interest which they should protect.  Whatever you do to support your university redounds to your advantage in the long run.

There is no exact science to achieving this target but there are some things that can likely boost physical attendance of a university: lucrative scholarships that require physical attendance among other criteria, assistance in the facilities development (academic, sporting, recreational, administrative) of the university, the retention of suitably qualified staff (attractive communities, lucrative memberships, appropriate entertainment), and active support for and participation in the marketing and recruiting initiatives of the university.  The amenities within the communities (food, housing, entertainment, transportation, security, jobs [part-time and full-time] that are reserved for university students that would allow them to work and study) can be a major draw card for students desiring tertiary education.  It will be up to the communities to help create the kind of environment that will attract the prospecting high school leaver.

Another evidence of this partnership and therefore a reason to support a university, although this may counter the geoeconomic argument, is the conviction that the value-added quality of the academic and extracurricular offerings is good for the nation.  That though is another essay.
The vision that drives an appreciation for quality graduates who are rounded, polished, and of stern integrity; for quality outreach programmes that positively impact the community in their most relevant areas of need; for quality leadership to buffer the wave of moral degradation that would overflow the nation, is a vision born of a desire for a nation that is civilized, cultured, progressive and truly 21st century.

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Northern Caribbean University, owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, offers itself as the centre of wholistic higher education.  It stands ready to formalize partnerships with all persons (individual or corporate) within the confines of law and its moral convictions.