Foreign providers in the Caribbean: pillagers or preceptors?

Foreign providers in the Caribbean: pillagers or preceptors?

Cross-border higher education in the Caribbean

Are the foreign providers of education in the Caribbean pillagers or preceptors? This collaborative paper addresses the growing phenomenon of cross-border higher education (CBHE), specifically on the trends of CBHE in the Caribbean. Looking at whether foreign providers in the Caribbean pillagers or preceptors, it includes at a total of nine case studies on the subject.

All the territories discussed face problems identified as being peculiar to small, developing countries. Their challenges include: remoteness and insularity; limited diversification due to poor resource endowment or exploitation and a small domestic market; a limited private sector; reliance on very few primary export products; and limited industrialisation and a heavy reliance on imports. Despite the increased number of tertiary institutions in the Caribbean region and the growing use of distance education, especially as provided through the use of ICTs, the supply of tertiary education has not been sufficient to meet the rising demand. In addition to the indigenous public providers, the tertiary landscape is increasingly being populated by private and external providers who use a diversity of methods in their offerings.

Key points arising from the case studies include:

  • Barbados: currently, external tertiary education provision in Barbados occurs only with formal assistance from local educational institutions
  • Belize: like other developing countries seeking to escape the “shackles of their colonial heritage,” the country cannot implement a human resource development strategy without major fiscal investment 
  • British Virgin Islands: while the influx of external tertiary providers into the Caribbean region is not considered a threat at present, it is recognised as an area of concern for which preparation is needed 
  • Cayman islands: many of the issues and concerns at the centre of debate on education are explained and illustrated by the islands’ history. But Cayman today does not stand apart from other Caribbean islands, or indeed the global arena, when it comes to ease and diversity of access to tertiary education.