UTech and ac­cred­i­ta­tion – set­ting the record straight

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Pro­fes­sor Colin Gyles is act­ing pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Ja­maica. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

The en­trance to the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Ja­maica.

IN THE in­ter­est of truth, I am com­pelled to re­spond to a re­port in The Gleaner dated Novem­ber 4, 2016 in a se­ries, ‘Fix­ing UTech’, ti­tled ‘60 cour­ses at UTech not ac­cred­ited’.

I re­fer to the 2009-2010 an­nual re­port of the Univer­sity Coun­cil of Ja­maica (UCJ) that shows that up to March 2010, UTech, Ja­maica, was the most pro­lific ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion in the is­land in terms of the num­ber of cour­ses ac­cred­ited, hav­ing 31 ac­cred­ited cour­ses listed in that re­port. North­ern Caribbean Univer­sity was next with 24. That sit­u­a­tion has not changed, as the 2015-2016 UCJ an­nual re­port lists UTech, Ja­maica, as hav­ing 40 cour­ses ac­cred­ited, the most for any ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion in Ja­maica as at March 2016.

In de­scrib­ing the sta­tus of ac­cred­i­ta­tion of in­sti­tu­tions, in the 2009-2010 an­nual re­port, the then ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the UCJ, Dr Eth­ley Lon­don, had this to say: “For al­most 20 years, the UCJ has pro­vided qual­ity-as­sur­ance ser­vice to Ja­maican ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion through pro­gram­matic ac­cred­i­ta­tion, but now finds it use­ful to pro­ceed to­wards in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion for the more ma­ture in­sti­tu­tions. This will as­sist in pre­vent­ing du­pli­ca­tion of ef­forts by in­sti­tu­tions, es­pe­cially those with many ac­cred­ited pro­grammes. These in­sti­tu­tions would have, over the years, im­proved their in­ter­nal qual­ity-as­sur­ance mech­a­nisms and, there­fore, should be ready for the process of in­sti­tu­tional re­views.”

Based on Dr Lon­don’s

state­ment, UTech, Ja­maica, would have been first in line to be con­sid­ered for in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion. Up to that time, UWI, Mona, did not have any course ac­cred­ited by the UCJ. It was only listed as one of the many reg­is­tered in­sti­tu­tions. That was the ex­tent of its in­volve­ment with the UCJ, so far as ac­cred­i­ta­tion went. But then, things changed.

There was a change of ad­min­is­tra­tion at the UCJ, and within a short while, UWI, Mona, was fa­cil­i­tated for as­sess­ment for in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion, while UTech, Ja­maica, was be­ing told that the stan­dards for in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion were not yet ready.

In­deed, the doc­u­ment that was later pub­lished by the UCJ, ti­tled ‘Stan­dards for In­sti­tu­tional Ac­cred­i­ta­tion’ has in its ref­er­ence a doc­u­ment dated May 2011, which means that as late as May 2011, the in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards doc­u­ment had not been com­pleted, but an as­sess­ment was done of the UWI, Mona, and in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion was granted ef­fec­tive Fe­bru­ary 1, 2012.

MIXED MES­SAGES

Mean­while, the ear­lier po­si­tion of the UCJ re­gard­ing in­sti­tu­tions such as UTech, Ja­maica, that had “many ac­cred­ited pro­grammes” was changed and UTech, Ja­maica, was be­ing told, as late as ear­lier this year, 2016, that it should not seek in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion. But sud­denly, since Fe­bru­ary 2012, pro­nounce­ments started be­ing made that there was only one ac­cred­ited in­sti­tu­tion in Ja­maica and that stu­dents should only en­rol in ac­cred­ited pro­grammes. What was that in­tended to achieve and who was be­hind it?

For an in­sti­tu­tion such as UTech, Ja­maica, that has been, and con­tin­ues to be, the most dili­gent and con­sis­tent in­sti­tu­tion A su­per­vised team of vol­un­teer den­tal stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s Col­lege of Oral Health Sciences pro­vide clean­ing and ex­trac­tions to some 150 res­i­dents from the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

in Ja­maica in pur­su­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion of its cour­ses, hav­ing re­peated the process more than 40 times suc­cess­fully, over a pe­riod of more than 20 years, but which, based on its size and com­plex­ity, has, per­haps, an­other 60 cour­ses yet to be sub­mit­ted, what is the mes­sage be­ing sent to our peo­ple?

As I pointed out at the re­cent cer­e­mony to in­stall our new prochan­cel­lor, Richard Pow­ell, “UTech, Ja­maica, seeks in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion as a part of our man­date”. This will pro­vide recog­ni­tion for all cour­ses of­fered by UTech, Ja­maica, as was af­forded to UWI, Mona. That process is now far ad­vanced and is ex­pected to be fully re­alised by early 2017.

I am pleased to note that the new ad­min­is­tra­tion at the UCJ has ex­pressed sup­port for this thrust, not only for an in­sti­tu­tion such as UTech, Ja­maica, but for other lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions that have sim­i­larly pur­sued pro­gramme ac­cred­i­ta­tion over the years and have sim­i­larly been hurt by a

neg­a­tive per­cep­tion that came about in more re­cent times, coin­cid­ing with the grant­ing of in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion to UWI, Mona.

As the only univer­sity that has been es­tab­lished by an act of the Ja­maican Par­lia­ment, UTech, Ja­maica, con­tin­ues to sup­port na­tional devel­op­ment and re­mains true to the na­tional an­them, which says: “Jus­tice, truth be ours for­ever, Ja­maica, Land we love.”

UTech, Ja­maica, con­tin­ues to pro­duce high-qual­ity grad­u­ates who are in de­mand and who con­tinue to make their mark lo­cally and over­seas. UTech, Ja­maica’s, fo­cused in­ter­ac­tion with the UCJ to­wards in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion will, very soon, pro­vide fur­ther ver­i­fi­ca­tion of its suc­cess as a Ja­maican in­sti­tu­tion of ex­cel­lence.

I

Colin Gyles

GUEST COLUM­NIST

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