UCC Group is on a Roll - Contributing to Development, Locally and Regionally
Substantially increased online registrations, renewed local and international institutional accreditation and the development and growth of several subsidiaries as they build horizontal and vertical synergies, are among the achievements that give the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) cause for celebration at this time.
Professor Dennis J. Gayle, President of the UCC and Chair of the UCC Foundation, says the “ The UCC, currently the largest private non affiliated accredited institution of higher learning in Jamaica and of the largest in the Caribbean, is prospering in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted educational institutions all over the world.”
“We have approximately 7000 students at all levels and almost 400 staff as well as faculty members. The University offers professional certificate, diploma, associate degrees and masters degree programmes as well as customized corporate education programmes across 7 physical campuses in Jamaica as well as UCC Online and the new UCC Global Campus which has recently developed formal relationships with many strategic partners, primarily in the US, establishing a foundation upon which to invite international student applications from countries around the world,”
He said that “The UCC is seeking to link local with regional with international and the Commonwealth concept is one good way of doing it but we are reaching out across the entire world.”
Professor Gayle said that the UCC is particularly proud of its local and international Institutional accreditation. He explained that “ local accreditation which is awarded by the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ); the external quality assurance body for tertiary education in Jamaica, regulates tertiary institutions, assesses readiness, and monitors and accredits higher education programmes. So UCC was happy to recently become one of only four Jamaican higher education institutions out of some eighty registered tertiary education providers to be awarded the accolade of Institutional Accreditation by the UCJ “
“We also have international Institutional Accreditation awarded by the Accreditation Service For International Schools, Colleges and Universities (ASIC), an independent UK based quality assurance body which specializes in the institutional accreditation of education providers, who are working with institutions or governments in more than 60 countries to improve the quality of their education programmes.”
He noted that when the Covid-19 pandemic started back in March 2020, the University was able to quickly put all its programmes on line because UCC Online had already been well established. ”We had been offering online programmes for a good while and so it was a matter of scaling up what we were already doing significantly. It wasn’t a new game for us and so our students were quite pleased at the smoothness with which we made the transition. Looking back, I think it’s fair to say we were able to rise to the challenge in that we had about 5,500 students registered in 2020 and this spring we have over 7,000. This is taking students at every level including K-13 from Jamaican high schools, Grade 11. We have given them an opportunity to pursue associate degrees and other tertiary awards while they are still completing their high school education, “he explained.
Professor Gayle said that one source of tremendous pride to the team at the UCC is the inspiring growth in subsidiaries established to support individuals and corporations in Jamaica.
For example, he noted, UCC Real Estate Investment & Development Company (UCC REID), is seeking to develop additional campuses across the Caribbean and is bringing an educational and community theme to larger projects as well as residential and commercial developments in Jamaica. “ UCC REID helps the University to develop and maximize the use of its own real estate, while supporting graduating students, alumni and other Jamaican and Caribbean clients with their property needs, whether office space, warehousing, or manufacturing new factory and construction or acquisition. We help with office space, warehousing or manufacturing premises construction or acquisition, so this is an excellent example of horizontal and vertical linkages”, he expanded.
The Business Development & Consulting Institute (BDCI), the UCC Group’s newest strategic business unit, in partnership with & co-sponsored by both the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) & the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), is a key player in the implementation of Jamaica’s business and economic growth agenda. It invests time and resources in the delivery of business development services to small and emerging businesses and helps to drive corporate startup and growth. This unit provides data and information for businesses advising commercialization and environment scanning while supporting the academic mission of the University and is currently rolling out “Value Edge”, which is a back office financial management service designed to strengthen corporate financial management while enabling entrepreneurs to focus on core business issues, such as marketing, sales and product or service quality.
“This institute works with UCC students and faculty members to offer services to the broader business community focusing on micro, small and medium sized businesses. This means that the BDCI is open for business so we are ready to assist and to work with any company within the indicated range, needing assistance of the kind just outlined”, he said.
Spectrum Capital Partners (SCP) is a private equity company which is raising finance to support the UCC Group’s growth and expansion plans. The company continues to progress a strong portfolio and is expected to complete its largest acquisition to date next month. Spectrum now has a robust pipeline of interested investors and is working with a number of international funding agencies while supporting the Group’s diversification by providing financial advice concerning several international grant applications made by the University and other Group members.
Partnership with a micro financing institute in Jamaica that provides loans for students and small businesses, and the acquisition of a majority shareholding in a second company are on the horizon.
Professor Gayle also had high praise for the University’s Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, which was launched in September 2019 and the Department of Corporate Education which provides customized education and training programmes for corporations across Jamaica.
“We have historically been an institution that has focused on working with professionals, people who are seeking to climb up the career ladder, to create their own companies. They are working so they are relatively mature students. I mentioned the K-13 programme - we are working now with students who are just stepping out of high school and who are seeking to gain tertiary qualification, so we try to ease them into tertiary education by means of earned qualifications such as an occupational associate degree, and other technical and vocational opportunities, as well as traditional associate degrees - all very important for the country.”