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Entry down

by Latoya Burnham

Despite increases in applicants, management of the Barbados Community College says enrollment is actually decreasing because students are not meeting the entry qualifications.

Chairman of the board, Stephen Broome said last weekend at the institution’s 2012 graduation ceremony that although there were 1,648 students leaving with degrees, the figure did not present the total picture of what was happening there.

“While that might sound impressive to some, it really does not put into context the stark reality of declining numbers at the Barbados Community College, which will manifest itself over the next few years. The challenge for the Barbados Community College at the moment and the immediate future, rests with how to grapple with declining numbers in an environment of robust competition.

“Even though applications for places exceed our intake ability in some cases, the challenge of prospective students not meeting our entry qualifications, coupled with increase competition from various different sources has seen a reduction in intake in many of our traditional areas. On the other hand, we have areas such as technology, nursing and hospitality where we have large numbers of applications and the demand cannot be met due to limited space and resources.”

This challenge of increased applications with too few spaces, Broome said, was something the board was looking at and hoped to address. There was a strategic planning exercise currently underway at the institution, which once completed by year-end, could address these matters, along with a number of other initiatives which should soon be rolled out, he added.

“These initiatives will look at the branding and marketing of the college to all of its stakeholders as well as working with external advisors who can assist us in our efforts to refocus some of our programmes.

“In the last year we have been able to get a number of significant projects started. Our strategic plan is underway, and we are awaiting the final report from the consultants for the staff audit that was recently undertaken. The staff audit coupled with the strategic plan should allow the administration to chart a way forward for the college both in terms of academic reorganisation, as well as resource development,” the chairman stated.

Principal, Dr. Gladstone Best in his address noted that the institution was in the process of repositioning itself and as such was experiencing transition issues.

“We have added a manager of human relations, a manager of management information systems, a business development officer, in an effort to strengthen the governance structure. This has resulted in more streamlining of the governance structure.

“As we develop and implement our strategic plan, it is expected that we will realise a more efficient and effective operational management structure at the College,” he said, adding that in the academic year they had also completed planning for a new gerontology programme that had already enrolled 16 students this year.

Broome said too that there was also work being done to upgrade the campus network and internal computer network, which should be completed by the end of this semester. Once completed, he added that they would allow the college administration to work more effectively and also aid alternative modes of teaching delivery.

“These projects will be completed at an estimated cost of $1.2 million and will see an improved network that will provide better security for campus information assets, improve the management of the computer network environment, guard against network security breaches and support the management of other security data risks.”

Staff and students too should begin to see benefits of Internet hotspots on campus, he said, as additional access was created across the institution.

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