The University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) announced on Thursday that it has slashed tuition for its summer degree programmes for both new and returning students by half.
The institution said the cut is among a raft of strategies – including moving all classes online – it is employing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that students can continue with their education.
“All new and returning UCC students will now be able to learn more affordably, while pursuing their degree, via video-based lectures, from the comfort of their home or office at a special tuition waiver of up to 50 per cent of the cost of traditional on-campus or previously online lectures,” UCC said in a statement.
The waiver, it said, has been made possible through partnerships with several accredited universities abroad, particularly in the USA. Also Thursday, the university said it has a new licensing agreement with learning management service (LMS) C4C, which is expected to improve its delivery of online courses.
“UCC plans to enhance its online degree provision, and to encourage student enrolment during the summer semester, by combining its new LMS platform MICON [Multi-Media Interactive Courses Online] with this other relatively new international platform, through which highly curated, video-based courses and content will be offered online by doctorally qualified, international faculty members, who are based at well-regarded universities abroad,” said president and executive chancellor, Professor Dennis Gayle.
Among the universities listed are Yale University, University of Michigan, Princeton University, McMaster University, University of California, and the University of Chicago, all in the US.
“These new partnerships will provide access to high-quality, pre-recorded, video-based courses and modules which will facilitate online learning, in addition to live classes on Zoom delivered by local UCC faculty, coupled with live or on-demand one-on-one tutorial sessions,” said Gayle.
He added that the new agreement will allow for the creation of additional learning modules, as necessary, in keeping with all current UCC course curricula, content, learning outcomes, contact hours, and assessment methods.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday to discuss strategies the university has effected in the wake of COVID-19, UCC hinted at the tuition cut, describing it as a “socially responsible measure”.
“UCC will continue to monitor the Government of Jamaica’s response to the pandemic and ensure that our actions reflect the collective mission of maintaining the country’s safety as our highest priority,” Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Mona-Deen Supria said then.
“We have implemented numerous strategies to ensure that our staff and students are protected. This includes moving all classes online, and implementing a work-from-home policy for our non-essential workers. For persons on campus, we have a checkpoint at the entrance of our Knowledge and Innovation Building (Kingston Campus) where temperatures are checked. Our Facilities Management Department has also increased sanitisation of all buildings and high-traffic areas,” she explained.
In addition, the university said it has helplines and chat services to assist students.
“Although many faculty and staff members are now working from home, students will continue to receive full support,” Supria said. “UCC is currently open for business, and all our services/departments can be accessed virtually and/or via telephone. We provide updates for our students and stakeholders via our website and online social media platforms. Students also have access to our 24/7 live chat via our website, and can call to speak directly to our customer care agents.”
UCC brands itself as the largest non-affiliated privately owned university in Jamaica. It is accredited by the UK-based Accreditation Services of Independent Colleges & Universities, and is a final-stage candidate for institutional accreditation from the University Council of Jamaica.
Last month the university announced that it would offer free access to its Corporate University e-learning platforms to companies interested in training their teams remotely.
“Until the end of April 2020, companies can access all course authoring and learning management system software for free with no obligation whatsoever,” UCC said in March.
“Additionally, individual Jamaicans will be able to access relevant free, recorded, video-based online courses taught by UCC’s international online faculty via the US-based Udemy platform. Jamaicans can log on to http://micon.myvcampus.com/ to start accessing these free professional development short courses. However, if a UCC certification is required at the end of each course, participants will be required to pay a small examination fee online,” it said.
Source: The Jamaica Observer