Companies sign MOU to promote edu-tourism
Education is big business and it is time that it is seen as such in Barbados.
This point was made this week at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between The Student Centre, a Barbadian online company offering services to persons interested in pursuing post-secondary education, and construction company Innotech Services Limited. The MOU is aimed at supporting the development of an “edu-tourism” sector which will be involved in the global marketing of Barbados and other Caribbean countries as a destination for pursuing higher education.
In remarks, Innotech’s Chief Executive Officer Martin DaSilva said that after almost 50 years of “free education” Barbados was now at “another juncture” and he suggested that further advancement needed to be made.
“Education is big business in many developed countries across the world. In places like the United States and Canada, it provides a mainstay revenue earner and generator to their economies.
“These are some of the benefits that we can embrace as we move Barbados to becoming an international destination for students from all across the world seeking first-class tertiary education,” he explained.
Sheena Alleyne, managing director of The Student Centre said education was “a key engine” of economic growth. She cited direct and indirect social, economic and political benefits to be gained from international education by both sending and receiving countries.
These, she said, included capacity building, stimulation of creativity and innovation, as well as attracting investment and revenue. “Some of these benefits would obviously be tuition fees, students’ personal expenses [and] increased exports,” she explained.
Alleyne said despite Barbados’ consistently strong performance as a major travel destination, diversification of the industry was critical in order to remain globally competitive.
“We believe that Barbados is well positioned to develop a fully functioning edu-tourism sector,” she said. “Edu-tourism is a potential industry and economic driver for Barbados to embrace as it relates especially to the recruitment of international students to pursue tertiary education.”
Alleyne said Barbados could be a force to be reckoned with in the international education market given its world-class education system.
Pointing out that Canada was emerging as one of the preferred global destinations for tertiary education, Alleyne said the long-term economic impact for that country was estimated at approximately CDN$8 billion in 2013.
“In the US, international students contribute approximately US$24 billion annually to the economy.
“From our scan of the international education market . . . at present, there is a limited visibility of Caribbean higher education institutions . . . with respect to recruitment.”