To dream more, learn more, do more, and become more
The University College of the Caribbean (UCC) is Jamaica’s largest privately held, tertiary educational institution. It was established in 2004 from an amalgamation of two antecedent institutions: the Institute of Management Sciences (IMS), established in 1992, and the Institute of Management and Production (IMP), established in 1976.
UCC’s Group Executive Chairman, Dr. Winston Adams, a chemical engineer by profession, pioneered the establishment of IMS and oversaw the acquisition of IMP in 2002. He explains that “the previous institutions were offering programs predominantly at the certificate and the two-year levels. They were vocational type programs, not the traditional degree programs. We recognized the need in the global marketplace to establish a new kind of institution—a University College—which would seek to offer programs at the higher levels, including undergraduate and graduate programs which were more relevant and practical to the needs of organizations.”
Today, UCC has approximately 200 full-time staff at its main campus in Kingston and eight other locations across Jamaica. It also has partnerships with institutions on six eastern Caribbean islands. Currently, UCC offers professional certificates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a wide array of disciplines including Business Administration, Public Administration, Accounting and Financial Management, Information Technology, Human Resource Management, Production and Operations Management, Logistics, and Marketing. 95 percent of UCC’s 4,000 students are working professionals who although currently employed, are augmenting their skills and qualifications profile by pursuing bachelor’s and/or advanced degrees.
“We seek to attract a different kind of student,” says Adams; “different clientele who are looking for cutting edge programs which will prepare them for the competitive and dynamic global market. We have a small cadre of students who are fresh out of high school—about five percent of our student population. At UCC, we believe in fostering and creating the business leaders of tomorrow. We’re guided by the belief that the key to Jamaica’s growth lies in the development of its people, so we try to build an ethos of innovation and entrepreneurialism. That’s the basis on which the institution was established.”
Adams stresses that UCC’s focus is on the use of technology to deliver the right combination of courses in “the right modality – not just the traditional face-to-face which most institutions are accustomed to doing.” Thus, the University College is seeking to significantly expand its offerings via the delivery of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. UCC is partnering with one of the largest MOOCs providers in the world, Coursera, an education company that partners with top universities as well as organizations worldwide, to provide low-cost, flexible, and accessible online learning. “The vision is to be their main partner in the Caribbean and we are looking to roll out that new, revolutionary platform to reach a large number of prospects at a much lower cost,” Adams says. Each online course consists of video lectures and tutorials, taught by some of the world’s top scholars, professors, scientists, and researchers.
In 2014, UCC also partnered with Leadercast, a leadership development consortium that facilitates an annual one-day leadership simulcast to over 145,000 corporate and civic leaders, worldwide, as well as online seminars which are available 24/7/365. Every UCC student, according to Adams, is exposed to its leadership training. “That’s unparalleled; it’s revolutionary,” he exults. “So not only are we looking at the traditional academic type programs and training, but we’re looking at real-world examples in leadership and practical approaches to leadership by partnering with this internationally recognized company.”
Adams states that UCC has not turned its back on brick and mortar enterprises even as it continues to explore the possibilities of significantly expanding its online learning. “We have just completed a new, state-of-the-art facility; the single largest investment of this type in Jamaica and the Caribbean,” he says. “The building is approximately 60,000 square feet and represents an investment to the tune of US$6,000,000. It highlights the commitment and desire to become an even larger player in offering cutting-edge solutions in higher education.”
The new building will also be the home to a group of new subsidiary companies under the UCC umbrella that will see the institution integrate vertically while opening up new revenue streams. They include: Global Knowledge Process Solutions (GKPS), a business process outsourcing services partner; UCC Financial Services; UCC Real Estate Investment, Ltd.; and Caribbean Energy Management Solutions, a renewable energy subsidiary. Adams also wants UCC to be able to franchise its business model throughout the Caribbean and beyond so that entrepreneurs and organizations can replicate its successes in their own locations. “We’re integrating the business vertically – that’s unique, no other tertiary institution seems to be doing that in the Caribbean,” he says. “We’re franchising–we’re thinking outside the proverbial box.”
UCC is also working with the Government of Jamaica to build a platform for the export of educational services. Adams calls the initiative: “edu-tourism – exporting higher education to attract foreign students to Jamaica in large commercial quantities.” UCC is partnering with JAMPRO, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce that promotes business opportunities in export and investment to the local and international private sector.
In addition, UCC is partnering with a major real estate developer to create the Caribbean Knowledge City (CKC), Jamaica’s first university town. The planned 10-acre site in the midst of a residential development consisting of 1,400 new homes in Trelawney will be the home of UCC’s western regional campus focused largely on Tourism and Hospitality, and Health and Wellness, in addition to the institution’s core offerings. Plans for the CKC also include a UCC-owned boutique hotel and complementary services and amenities.
Adams’ medium-term vision includes advancing the institution’s status from that of a University College to that of a University, and eventually establishing the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) to better reflect its position as a world-class educational institution with excellent and sustainable academic, research, service and financial bases. He would also like to see the institution gain international accreditation. “Although we do have local recognition and programmatic accreditation,” he says, “we’re looking for international accreditation from one of the recognized accrediting bodies in the U.S., such as the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).”
Over 70,000 persons have completed programmes of study with UCC, and its predecessor institutions. Many have advanced to prominent leadership positions in organizations, and others have established thriving enterprises. As the consummate entrepreneur, this development of new businesses has been very pleasing to Dr. Adams.
It is a fact that many of the graduates and students of UCC and the predecessor institutions were able to complete their studies by virtue of the raft of scholarships established under the stewardship of Dr. Adams, and Mrs. Geraldine Adams. Dr. and Mrs. Adams believe strongly in facilitating the achievement of personal dreams by those who exhibit ambition, desire, and commitment to rise above the limiting conditions of their lives.
The University College of the Caribbean continues to prepare its students to become business and community leaders, innovators, and scholars contributing to the growth and development of the island nation and, indeed, the Global Village.