GREAT BAY – “When we started the renewal of the USM in August 2014, we had three questions that the entire staff knew we had to answer and understand. The first was ‘Where exactly is the USM located?’ – which seemed simple – we would say that it’s located on St. Maarten. But what we had to understand is what kind of a society St. Maarten is. And we had to understand what’s unique to the island. Everyone here, in one way or the other, earns their bread and butter through the hospitality industry,” Dr. Francio Gaudeloupe, President of the University of St. Maarten said yesterday at a press conference at the University of St. Maarten (USM). Valerie Giterson Pantophlet (President of USM Foundation), Danny Ramchandani (member of the USM Foundation), Silveria Jacobs (Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs), Cecil Nicholas (senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs), Eion Nicolas (Director of SCELL (School of Continuous Education and Lifelong Learning), and Jan van Beek (Head of USM Business Division) were all speakers on the panel discussion.
“Our mission is to have, in every household, someone who holds at least a level 5 associate degree, because everyone is working hard for this economy to strive, which means everyone’s children should have equal opportunity to climb and advance the social ladder. What we did, is to implement this level 5 degree. We have started accrediting the programs of the USM – making sure that they are internationally accredited. If students would like to travel abroad either to the U.S. or Europe, they can immediately enter with a degree from the USM and only take two years to gain their bachelor degree,” Guadeloupe said.
“In 2014, we started with zero accreditation, however, now in 2017, we can announce that all the programs, excluding one, are fully accredited either by the U.K., the UVI at USM cooperation, and middle states accreditation in the U.S.A. In addition, adequate funds are needed to keep the programs accredited so that persons in all walks of life can come to the USM and gain a degree and start climbing the social ladder.”
“We also need to expand our facilities here,” says Danny Ramchandani, “Making buildings is probably very easy, we can find funding and build amazing dorms and offices, but they have to be filled and we need qualified students to be in our school. But we cannot do that, if all the laws and funding are not put in place. We need that help from our government. We definitely need the higher education law in place, so when students come, they will be confident that when they graduate the will have a degree that’s recognized. I managed – as a group – to put a program together for fundraising. But not only do we need help from the government, we also need help from people who believe that a higher education is important.”