The College of the Bahamas
University description (as per official university website)
The College of The Bahamas is a publicly supported tertiary level educational institution which was created to be a source of academic and intellectual leadership in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for the purposes of self-fulfillment, productive work and national building. Established by an Act of Parliament in 1974, The College of The Bahamas was created through the amalgamation of four institutions: Bahamas Teachers' College, San Salvador Teachers' College, C.R. Walker Technical College and the Sixth Form Programme of The Government High School. With 2000 students on its register, the institution opened its doors for the first time in September 1975.
The College is funded by an annual Government subsidy and by revenues the institution generates from tuition and special service fees, rental of facilities, entrepreneurial ventures and other initiatives. The Government also provides national bursaries, grants and awards to assist qualified students. Additionally, deserving students of The College have access to scholarships from many long-standing private donors, including individual sponsors, corporate groups in financial services and other sectors, civic and charitable groups and others. The Lyford Cay Foundation deserves special recognition for significantly strengthening The College's financial aid programme over the years.
From the beginning The College has had an ongoing commitment to increasing access to higher and continuing education for Bahamians in New Providence and throughout the archipelago. As early as 1976, at the request of Bahamas Institute of Bankers, The College established a presence in Grand Bahama, offering a programme leading to the Diploma in Banking. In 1986, after a decade of programme expansion, a centre was established in Freeport, Grand Bahama, second largest population centre of The Bahamas. This facility evolved over time to become the Northern Bahamas Campus.
Subsequently, The College began a gradual move into other islands with Exuma being the next beneficiary of the expansion. COB launched the Associate Degree Programme in Office Administration in Georgetown, Exuma in the fall of 1995, having made its incursion into that island the year before with an upgrading initiative. The paraprofessional course, Pre-School Teaching, was introduced at Staniard Creek, Andros during the same period. By the fall of 1998, The College had so progressed in its outreach as to be able to offer the Bachelor of Education Programme in Primary Education to a group of serving teachers in Eleuthera and to teachers in Abaco by Fall of 2000.
The College's Centre for Continuing Education and Extension Services has long been a leader in personal and professional development programmes in New Providence. The Centre now administers a variety of academic, technical and vocational courses and programmes to learners residing in Grand Bahama and non-campus islands. Today, beneficiaries of these arrangements are found in Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera and most recently in Inagua. Lately, the Centre has intensified its efforts in providing continuing educational opportunities by offering several international certification programmes.
Through the generosity of Bank America Trust Corporation, The College acquired its first computers and established a computer centre equipped with an eight-terminal IBM S/34 computer and six Radio Shack microcomputers. By 1999, COB was providing access to computers in eight locations, seven in New Providence and one in Freeport.
The College accelerated programme development in the decade of the 1990s, compelled by its determination to evolve into a full-fledged university offering programmes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Also exercising a powerful influence over COB's pattern of development were the reports resulting from three studies commissioned by Government between 1991 and 1994: A Master Plan for Post Secondary Education, the Task Force on Education and the Una Paul study. All three reports stressed the need to address the prevailing fragmentation in tertiary education in The Bahamas, and suggested that a national university was essential to progress.
In 1991, programmes in Nursing and Health Sciences administered by the Ministry of Health at Grosvenor Close in New Providence were incorporated into the COB's nursing programme, which began in 1983. In 1995, the combined programmes formed the foundation of the School of Nursing.
COB established a Research Unit in September 1992 with a mandate to encourage and facilitate the research interests of faculty, staff, students and the wider public. Additionally, The College operates the Bahamas Environmental Research Centre in Andros and the Gerace Research Centre in San Salvador, both of which have welcomed and facilitated the investigatons of international researchers and student field programmes. These field stations permit faculty and students of The College to undertake ecological and marine research in pristine settings, and foster international partnerships in research initiatives.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) was established in 1997 to facilitate, support and encourage entrepreneurship and new enterprise throughout The Bahamas, providing advice, counsel and training and other programmes for persons wishing to start businesses.
On January 28, 1998, the Right Honorable Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, communicated to the House of Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, a three-year plan for the development of The College of The Bahamas. He noted the following purposes:
"This plan represents the first stage in the realisation of our long-range vision for The College: that of the institution's attaining the status of a national university, capable of responding to important local needs while occupying a respected place in the international academic community."
"An important element in the realisation of this vision will be the institution's emergence as a centre of excellence in disciplines of study and research that are critical to the development of The Bahamas and which also have importance in the wider world. Environmental studies, international banking and finance and tourism studies stand out in this regard. Specifically, it reflects a continuation of my Government's commitment to provide citizens with the quality education and training necessary to meet the challenges of the new millennium."
Out of this enlarged mandate came a number of new developments. Coinciding with the restructuring of the academic sector of COB was the amalgamation of The Bahamas Hotel Training College with The College of The Bahamas was effected in August 2000. The linking produced the School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies (now the Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute). In the same year, The College established an LL.B degree programme in conjunction with the University of the West Indies.
Introduction of Bachelor Degree Programmes
In the final decade of the 20th century, The College of The Bahamas developed its first Bachelor degrees. The Business Division (now the School of Business) was the pioneer in this regard, introducing its first four-year degree, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree programme with a concentration in Banking and Finance. This was followed, in 1995, with BBA degrees in Accounting and Management and, in 1996 the BBA programme in Computer Information Services was added. Bachelor of Education programmes in Primary Education and Physical Education became available in the fall of 1996, supplementing the University of the West Indies Bachelor of Education degree programme offered by The College since 1976. In 1997, The College awarded degrees to the first group of graduates from the BBA programme in Banking and Finance.
The College of The Bahamas Act (1995) - A New Mandate
The College would mark another milestone of great importance in the 1990s. With the passage in Parliament of The College of The Bahamas Act (1995), the institution became a corporate entity under the governance of an 11-member College of The Bahamas Council. The new Act extended the mandate of The College to include the awarding of full degrees. The expanded mandate and responsibilities required, in turn, a strategic plan, a new organisational structure and management team and a new salary and career structure. Among the new units created was the Office of President.
Moreover, COB was granted greater autonomy to manage its operations and finances, including "taking, purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging and disposing of property, movable or immovable". The Act also empowered The College to seek and receive private funding, and changed The College's financial system from public to private accounting. The Business Office took charge of responsibilities previously held by the Public Treasury, and internal and external auditing by private firms was introduced.
A reconstituted Council made provision for representation for senior management, faculty, students and alumni, as well as the public and private sectors of the wider community. Four sub-committees of Council were created: Academic Affairs, Finance, Staffing and Development. In each instance, the President was included as an ex-officio member, and the relevant Vice President was appointed to serve as a member to provide detailed, technical information. The 1995 Act also created the post of Council Secretary, as a position in its own right, to manage the much larger volume of work that would be generated by the increased responsibilities of the Council. Formerly, the duties of Secretary were an integral part of the statutory duties of the Registrar, a post that was made redundant under the new scheme.
The College's increased latitude in financial matters permitted the almost immediate formation of a College foundation. The generosity of the Lyford Cay and Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation, at the urging of Harry Moore, a member of the latter and a member of Council, led to the establishment of Lyford Cay College of The Bahamas Scholarship Endowment Fund, which reached its goal of $5 million in 2001. The fund has already provided considerable assistance to needy students who would otherwise find it difficult to pay for a college education.
Local and International Affiliations
The College has signed a number of articulation agreements and memoranda of understanding/association with institutions in The Bahamas, in the Caribbean and in the United States, and an ongoing goal is to forge such relationships with institutions in countries beyond the region. These formal linkages permit the easy transfer of students from one institution to another, student and faculty exchanges, collaborative projects and joint research, as well as an overall expansion of education and training opportunities for the Bahamian community. A number of graduate and professional certification programmes have been introduced in this way, including the Becker CPA Review and master's degree programmes in School Counselling with Kent State University and the University of Miami, respectively.
The College's Role in National Development
That College of The Bahamas plays a central role in national development is reflected in a statement made in 1995 by the College's first President on the occasion of the institution's 20th anniversary celebrations:
"These twenty years of dedicating ourselves to teaching have brought forth a rich harvest for the development of our country and have afforded thousands of Bahamians the opportunity deservedly to move to senior posts in our banking, accounting, and teaching professions. The Bahamas Institute of Bankers has contributed significantly to our efforts appropriately to prepare actual and prospective employees of our financial services industries. In medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, more and more of our local professionals receive their initial training at The College. Nurses and health sciences practitioners who graduate from our programmes are eagerly recruited by both public and private health care facilities. Our middle-level and senior public administrators, our law enforcement officials, our aspiring lawyers, our court reporters, our social workers, our agriculturalists, and our technologists and future engineers have all profited from specialised training provided by specific programmes at The College..."
Need for More Space
Increasing enrolment, programme offerings and services have made expanded facilities and equipment an imperative. Despite capital funding challenges, The College embarked on a development programme at the end of the 1990s. The new construction included a student services administration building, two new classroom room block, an extension to the facility occupied by the Law faculty. In the same period, Council gave approval for the construction of two new classroom/office blocks and a new library. Funding for the latter is to be supported by a tripartite partnership including the Government of The Bahamas, the Lyford Cay Foundation and The College of The Bahamas. Also on the drawing board was a Science building and a Teacher Education building in New Providence and instructional and residential facilities, including a Science and Agriculture building, in Grand Bahama.