UCCI board chair clarifies comments

| 05/03/2015 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service

Sheree Ebanks, UCCI Board Chair

(CNS): The chair of the UCCI board has claimed that her recent comments about the business associate’s degree being “essentially meaningless” were taken out of context by the press. Sheree Ebanks issued a statement Wednesday in which she said she had the greatest respect for the students and alumni of UCCI and the plans to eliminate that course would see it become part of a longer bachelor’s programme.

The chair said the comment appeared to have caused some dismay by members of the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) community and the general public and she wanted to set the record straight.

Ebanks had made the comment when she was discussing recommendations in a report undertaken by the board and faculty on how the college can stop the losses and cut some $500,000 from the budget.

Clarifying what she had said, Ebanks stated that in order to have a chance in the workplace students needed more than the associate’s certificate.

“My intention was to reiterate the importance of ensuring that our graduates have a fighting chance in this globally competitive labour market. The best way I know how is to encourage them to pursue a bachelor’s and even a master’s degree after completing their associate degrees,” she said. “Having worked in the business industry for over forty years and climbing up the corporate ladder from an entry level position to top level management, I know… that it will serve our young Caymanian men and women well to take advantage of further education opportunities.”

The recommendation to cut the business associate’s degree programme was one of a raft of measures in the report, which included cutting the summer term, dropping the less popular courses that are not supported by the education ministry and increasing fees.

No decisions have yet been made by the UCCI management about the potential cuts and reduction in posts, which Ebanks explained would be made through natural attrition, but she said that in order to secure its future the UCCI needs to earn more and spend less.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am surprised that everyone seems to be taking this woman to task over this statement. From the first article where she said it I understood perfectly what she was saying. Employers these days don’t even consider you in most instances if you have less than a Masters so all she was saying was why aim for just an associates degree, at least aim for a full bachelor degree. A lot of students get their associates and think they are equipped to enter the job market, not if they are competing against people who have double majors and master degrees. Her term “meaningless” was a comparison between those with Associates competing against people with bachelor’s and higher, would they have a fighting chance in the job market? Highly unlikely!

  2. Anonymous says:

    And you can’t get your BA, MBA, PhD without starting at the bottom ie:- HS diploma, (GED) and then Assoc……Dang…….and they say they’re educated? My parents didn’t have a degree but they like many “older” Caymanians could run rings around this bunch…….No wonder our children don’t care when we accept everything spewed from these so called “learned” committee members

    • Anonymous says:

      This whole debate makes no sense to me. Is the board chair saying that she is doing away with the associates in business because she wants degreed employees only out there? On the basis of that argument, why offer the AA in any field at all? Let’s just do away with the AA entirely. And while we are at it, don’t bother to issue useless high school diplomas either.

      This whole argument just strikes me as a bit silly. I don’t think that students are aiming for the AA as the end in their education in business or in any other field, for that matter. But while in pursuit of the bachelor’s, the AA offers a benchmark that students can aim for and it is a shot in the motivational arm as they continue pursuing their educational goals.

      Neither will the actual possession of an AA diploma make any difference to whether they choose to continue on to the bachelor’s at UCCI or opt to go overseas. Universities are assessing transcripts of grades.

      The board chair should recognize as well that a large phalanx of UCCI students are working students, whose achievements of educational pursuits consequently usually take much longer than the norm. Doing away with the AA in business is not going to accelerate achievements or change the mind set of students in their educational goals.

      In any case, students will still have their transcripts, which mean much more to a prospective employer than a diploma.

      An AA piece of paper won’t make a whole lot of difference one way or the other — what matters are the acquired skills, the broadening of understandings and perspectives, attitude, work ethics, willingness to give of one’s best to one’s employer, and fortitude to continue with educational goals and career advancement.

      This whole debate leaves me mystified.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it is absolutely wrong to give people MBA’ after a year of study when most of us had to complete a 4 year Bachelor Degree first! Some of these people still can’t even write properly! That should be stopped!

    • Anonymous says:

      CORRECTION: it would have been of more value for the board chair to correct the impression that the review and report to which which she refers is a joint board/faculty & staff initiative. Not so — not even technically so. Instead she has reinforced this incorrect impression above.

      The truth is that three or four faculty and a couple of staff were picked to sit on this committee chaired by the deputy board chair. Those selected never asked for any input from faculty as a whole and, in fact, never even communicated that they were sitting on such a committee. It appeared to have been some sort of secret initiative, except for the inevitable leaks. At points, faculty and staff learned from these leaks that a committee was meeting but had no notion of who initiated or why. Typical!

      It is therefore totally disingenuous to give the impression that this report has been developed by faculty and staff.

      Further, the board chair has never communicated to the press/public that she is awaiting the response of the faculty and staff. I hope that those views a which are now being formulated are taken seriously, in spite of the board taking its version to the media rather than awaiting the faculty and staff’s input and incorporation.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t appear to know how further education works. I have a Masters degree and DID NOT need an associates degree to get there. In fact, the majority of individuals who have a BA and beyond do not obtain an associates first!

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a family member that has a masters and did not obtain an associates OR a BA first.

      • Anonymous says:

        No one is saying that you need an associate to get a bachelor’s or a master’s. To the person who deduced this: Read the relevant postings again more carefully. What some posters are saying is that AA is not perceived by most students as an end, but a step towards a bachelor’s.

        UCCI was originally s two-year college, and could actually be considered in transition to a four-year college. This is why you have the big graduation ceremony with AA graduands. But it does nevertheless serve as a benchmark as students move forward in their educational career. Nothing wrong with that at all.

        The board chair was quite wrong to view it as a “meaningless” accomplishment. Education cannot be meaningless. In this case, it shows that such a graduate has academic ability and interest in equipping him or herself for career and life. As an employer this tells me this person has acquired some skills and has potential — which I can now explore as to relevance and degree.

        As an employer I am also cognizant that in some cases life and work experience and personal attributes may be more important than academic qualifications.

        But to say those academic qualifications at any stage are meaningless is just plain wrong.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the comments of Mrs. Ebanks. Common sense…an employer will be much quicker to hire an individual with a bachelors degree or masters degree over someone fresh out of high school or with an AA degree. (Bearing in mind we are not considering experience). An AA should be used as a stepping stone to a higher degree. But with that said, I would venture to say that the majority of people with a BA or Masters degree does not obtain an associates first. They simply obtain credits and work towards the degree. *just my 2 cents*

  4. Anonymous says:

    UCCI provides an associates free of cost under the Civil College program, but it’s useless as these students cannot transition to another non civil college degrees because their credits are not recognized within UCCI.

    • Bob says:

      That isn’t true at all. Most (nearly all) DO transfer. In fact, most have been vetted through an International Accrediting agency and transferred to US institutions.

  5. Skeptic says:

    Without international accreditation, the UCCI’s pieces of paper are meaningless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, Skeptic, did you see the story in the other media that said UCCI would have accreditation within a month? Does that not convince you?

      • Skeptic says:

        I sincerely hope this is true.

        • Anonymous says:

          Skeptic, keep your skepticism going. One month to get accreditation smacks of nothing but deception. Accreditation is a rigorous process that takes years, hard work, and is actually quite expensive. This one-month process bespeaks of none of those required attributes.

      • Anonymous says:

        It can have all the accreditation it likes it wont change the perception that it is an inferior institute.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So what I am gathering from mrs. Ebanks comments your are practically worth nothing with a high school diploma? What happened to hard work, dedication, loyalty and going beyond the call of duty? As far as I can remember most of the men and women that built this country did have degrees and yet this country thrived. Now we have nothing but so call educated people at the top yet we have more unemployment, poverty, crime and the list goes on.

    No business should hold anyone back because the lack of a degree if the person is smart, able to complete the job and is honest why not give them an opportunity? Some of the wealthiest men and women are college drop outs!

    • Skeptic says:

      Businesses are not responsible for giving people the basic education and training that they should have received in school. Businesses are responsible for giving industry specific training to employees who have come to them with the basics already in place.

      Wealthy college dropouts are the exception not the norm.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I would strongly advise against doing away with the AA in Business.

    Currently the Associates (AA) in Business is an affordable and attainable degree for most young Caymanians.

    It is a stepping stone that opens more doors than a simple high school diploma does.

    It is a real struggle with time and money for most young Caymanians to obtain the AA – most have to work full time in addition to going to UCCI full or part time as the Government only gives scholarships to cover tuition – not living expenses.

    A much smaller number of people are pursuing the BA as the courses are much more expensive ($800 or $500 vs $250 per course?) and most people upon completing the AA need to get a job / a promotion and stick with it to make up for the debts incurred while pursuing the AA.

    UCCI and the Cayman Islands Government need to find a realistic way to make obtaining an AA and then a BA accessible for Caymanians.

    If fees will be raised, the Education Ministry needs to be prepared to foot the bill for 90% of tuition as it will become out of the reach of almost everyone who needs to go to UCCI.

    I would also suggest a stipend be offered for living expenses so that young people can pursue their AA and BA full time and obtain it all in 4 years rather than having to work part time / school part time and it taking 6 to 8 years to obtain the BA.

    And the Ministry responsible for transport enforce the bus route from GT through Walkers Road so that young people have public transportation option to get to school! CNS – Can you look in to this please? Its a crying shame there is no public transport option to UCCI!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why should government pay your kids tuition fees at UCCI or anywhere else for that matter. The middle classes in cayman earn enough. Keep such money to pay for genuinely poor families with a will to succeed.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not agree that government should have to pay for our children to get a university education but I do believe if children have made the grade and earned a scholarship they should be awarded with one. Scholarships should not be given based upon what side of the poverty line you fall on. It should be based upon academics after all it is an academic scholarship not a social services grant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    An associates is not a useless degree but it is just like a high school diploma it is a stepping stone to the next level and should be treated that way. What ICCI and UCCI need to stop doing is pretending that they are actual universities and encourage Caymanians to go away and get some global exposure which will assist with the small island mentally and crabs in a bucket complex. Our people need to be encouraged to travel and survive without parents babying them and taking care of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      First of all agree that we need our people going overseas. But too many who come here have the lack of exposure. Take hours to get here doesn’t translate into having any more ‘international’ experience if your were working as an accountant with neighbourhood Home Depot or small office in Australia, or some little country English town. However, Caymanians who work in financial services work in top global financial market and will have more international exposure than their work permit co-workers.

      That being said, let’s look at our Dep Governor, as far as I know he only worked in one government department, always lived in WB (same street), Cayman, never studied, lived overseas and after articles didn’t spend time ‘practising’ yet he’s head of civil service! So why can’t young Caymanians use that model of remaining in same job fro over 30 years, especially in the Civil Service?

      • Anonymous says:

        And don’t forget that they like to call themselves lawyers even though they couldn’t make a living at it if they tried. If you want a lawyer’s salary then go work as a lawyer.

  9. John says:

    It’s a shame that she clarified her comments. It was refreshing to hear the truth for a change.

    To take it one step further where does a UCCI degree rank globally? Not that it matters as far as the work permit board is concerned all degrees are created equal regardless of the school they were obtained from.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry to say Mrs Ebanks is correct an Associates is meaningless. You have to get your bachlors and possibly a masters…if an employer has a choice who they will hire, it surely won’t be the one with the Associates..

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is a meaningless qualification.

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