Last Thursday, 122 Bermuda College graduates received their degrees, certificates and diplomas. It was an occasion for celebration as yet another year of students are now better positioned to further pursue their education overseas or better positioned to ascend the stairs of career advancement. As a community college, our college offers a wide range of educational and training opportunities for all residents. As chairman of the Bermuda College Board of Governors, I want to see more students making our college their tertiary institution of first choice.
All of us recognise that tertiary education and further education are critical components of career satisfaction, upward mobility and ensuring a skilled labour force for our country. An examination of what the College offers will reveal an extensive selection of course offerings and training programmes, a number of which have developed in tandem with the business community, to provide these components in an easily accessible venue.
At a time when many Bermudians continue to have self-doubt about their own institutions and, through their actions, imply most things foreign are better, there are two compelling reasons why Bermuda College is the perfect choice today.
Firstly, there is the cost. A year of studies in the associates degree programme will cost less than $4,000. The comparable cost for any first year college or university programme in North America or Europe is not less than $30,000. Our Government has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring quality higher education for Bermudians by providing a significant subsidy for tertiary education on the Island. The UK had a similar subsidy and thus provided genuine opportunities for its citizens across class strata; the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government has now moved away from such a commitment which has seen massive tuition hikes and, correspondingly, reduced opportunities for lower income people. The Bermuda Government continues to support educational opportunities for all and demonstrated this by retaining Bermuda College’s grant for the current fiscal year.
Secondly, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation secured by the Bermuda College during its seven-year planning and work toward this validation, has been transformative for our students. Our graduates with associate degrees can now receive full transfer credit for their two years of study at Bermuda College. In other words, NEASC has concluded that two years in the associates programme is akin to two years at any college in the New England area, and because of the accreditation system in the US, the recognition is extended throughout the US. Most of our students pursue further education in North America and so this is without doubt a significant step forward.
Bermuda College is the bastion of hope and opportunity in part because of the dedicated, talented and selfless contribution of its faculty and staff. Those of us present saw that celebrated at the convocation ceremony last week, where students recognised the positive learning environment and critical support received during their period of study. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Bermuda College faculty and staff, under the eminently capable leadership of its president, Dr Duranda Greene, for setting our students on their path to success.
Bermuda College is one of our great assets. Over time, I hope more residents will come to appreciate this. And I hope that appreciation is reflected in concrete action.