Regional universities and colleges that want to bring American students and researchers south can now look to Education USA for assistance.
Education USA is a U.S. State Department-supported global network of student advising centers and as such has traditionally focused on encouraging students to study in America.
However, Education USA’s Regional Education Advising Coordinator Maria Mercedes Salmon said they have also been working to assist higher education institutions in the Caribbean which are looking to “internationalize” their offerings.
“For many years our main focus has been sending students but we definitely also now want to provide support to those here who are hosting students,” said the education expert during a recent networking visit to the Caribbean.
Salmon noted that while several Caribbean colleges and universities recognized the benefits of attracting foreign students or researchers, several were not “logistically prepared” to do so as yet.
“Academically our curriculums are not designed for transferring credit. You may want to sign five agreements with five different institutions in the U.S. but if we don’t accept their credit and they don’t accept our credit then that agreement is not going to go anywhere,” she explained.
This is where Education USA comes in. While the agency cannot negotiate or execute the agreements for schools, they provide a range of support services and advice on how to make these agreements happen.
“So what that entails is training local universities on how to sign exchange agreements with U.S. universities – how they go about reaching out to the universities, how they go about establishing partnerships in terms of credits that are recognized between institutions,” said Salmon, noting that Education USA has facilitated workshops on the subject which bring together regional and U.S. higher education officials.
She acknowledged that it was still a “learning process” and pointed to the University of the West Indies as one school with a “really good model going” and an example to other regional institutions.