Caribbean Institutions Sign MOUs for Higher Education

June 28, 2023

Pond Island, On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the four main institutions of higher education and research in the Caribbean of the Kingdom signed two Memoranda of Understanding for stronger collaboration and exchange among faculty, staff, and students.

Representatives of the University of St. Martin (USM), the University of Curaçao (UoC), the University of Aruba (UA), and the Instituto Pedagogico Arubano (IPA) met at the USM campus on Pond Island over the weekend to discuss areas of collaboration, exchange programs, and mobility within the Kingdom of the Netherlands to support student success and the further development of higher education in the region. One MOU affirmed the commitment that was made in 2014 among the Caribbean institutions (UNICARIB) to cooperate in curriculum development, the sharing of resources, and research. The second document signed secures partnerships in student exchange programs, the recognition of credits, and professional, and academic exchange among faculty members and staff within the framework of the Strategic Education Alliance (SEA).

Funds have already been set aside for student exchange at the last four-country consultation process (4LO) in January this year when the ministers of education of the Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten committed to working with the regional universities to elevate the quality of education in the Caribbean. Among the agreements was the coordination of a pre-academic foundation year geared towards the preparation of students for higher education in the region or the Netherlands. Also during the meeting, all four institutions committed to establishing the Caribbean Higher Education Council of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (CHECK), which will oversee projects, dialogue on accreditation and quality assurance, synchronization of scientific and practitioner-based research and academic programs, and advise ministers on related policies.

CHECK will work closely with SEA. SEA was established at a work conference in Aruba in September 2022, where representatives of regional institutions of tertiary and higher education met with all four ministries and the public entities of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Bonaire. Following the experience of the Europe-wide exchange program Erasmus+, SEA+ was created in order to facilitate exchange within the Kingdom. Student exchange can begin as of the 2023–2024 academic year, and students can spend up to one semester abroad. At each institution, an office of international affairs will coordinate the exchange programs. Scholarships will cover travel expenses and a monthly stipend.

Attending the meeting held at USM on Sunday were IPA Director drs. Marilyn Richardson, Rector of UA Prof. Dr. Viola Heutger, and USM President Prof. Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez. Representing the University of Curaçao was Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Echteld. The team was accompanied by Juliska van Rossum of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in the Dutch Caribbean and Wladimir Kleinmoedig of the Curaçao Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports. The next meeting of the newly founded Council is scheduled to take place in September.


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