Now coming up to its 41st year of providing
further education in the Cayman Islands, the International College of the
Cayman Islands has some exciting new developments in the pipeline. ICCI
President John H. Cummings speaks with the Journal.
As a non-profit organisation, the ICCI has,
over the years, provided affordable further education for thousands of individuals
in the Cayman Islands, always managing to keep its costs down while at the same
time maintaining the highest standards of education. Alumni include individuals who have reached
the very pinnacle of their careers, including Carlyle McLaughlin, former senior
partner with Ernst and Young (now retired) and former chairman of the Cayman
Islands Monetary Authority, as well as the current chairman, George McCarthy,
who was also the island’s financial secretary and chief secretary.
This month the ICCI will be breaking ground
on a new business building, at a cost of around CI$218,000, with a completion
date estimated in March or April 2011.
The brand new facility will have two large modern classrooms focused on
business courses and the classrooms will include best practice teaching tools
such as a smart board, projector and a laptop.
ICCI President John Cummings explains the
benefits these new tools will bring for students: “Smart boards in the
classroom provide instructors with a modern interactive tool, combining the
power of a computer with the simplicity of a whiteboard similar to CNN’s magic
map used by John King. This will also give students a chance to adopt the smart
board for presentations made in class.”
Dr Cummings says that the Cayman Islands Society
of Professional Accountants and the Cayman Islands Fund Administrators
Association have both recognised the value of such a development for further
education for their industries and, as such, have both committed funds for
outfitting a classroom each.
“We have received initial funding for part
of the cost of the building from a private donor and are seeking to raise the
rest,” he confirms.
Funds are being sought via an initiative
spearheaded by Friends of ICCI, a US-based non-profit organisation.
Dr Cummings explains: “Friends of the ICCI
is a registered 501C3 which allows US companies to donated monies to the
college and get a tax write-off. So, as
we ask for grants and donations, this is also a means for US-based companies on
the island to benefit the educational standards on the island and do so using
this as a tax write off. In this manner
we both succeed.”
The ICCI: a sensible choice for further
The ICCI is, according to Dr Cummings,
“absolutely the best solution for students in the Cayman Islands to get an
affordable college education”.
He furthers: “Our degrees are recognised by
the US Department of Education and our courses transfer anywhere world-wide as
a result of our accreditation by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges
and Schools (ACICS).”
The ICCI is a sensible solution for
individuals who wish to further their education while holding down employment
and/or are caring for a family. Dr Cummings says: “The typical ICCI student is
balancing a job and family obligations while also pursuing an education. They make sacrifices every day to better
themselves and their families. The ICCI
provides them that chance to pursue an education while still working full time
by providing evening hours and by operating on the quarter system which enables
them to accelerate the pace of their learning.”
He says that by relying upon a combination
of full time faculty drawn from academia and part time faculty drawn from
industry, the ICCI is able to expose students to both the theoretical and
practical side of learning.
“The college has adapted to the changing
work environment by increasing its focus on computer-based learning and using
innovative techniques such as on line applications like Moodle and the use of
interactive power point presentations,” he says.
Dr Cummings says that the new business
building is important for continued to growth, as the college has simply run
out of rooms to offer more classes.
“We have even converted the old president’s
office to be used as classroom space but to continue serving additional
students we need more classrooms,” he adds.
New business Chair
In conjunction with the new building, the
college is also working on a number of other initiatives, to ensure that they
continue to provide the very best education for students. One such important
development is the decision to hire an academic Chair in finance or accounting.
“Most business courses are taught by
part-time instructors who work in their field of expertise. But with the
increased focus on business programmes in accounting, finance and banking, and
expected growth in student enrollment, there is a strong need for a full-time
resident professor in finance or accounting who has strong industry expertise,
research and instructional capabilities,” Dr Cummings explains.
To make this happen, the College is seeking
funds from the private sector for an academic Chair at the International
College, in what Dr Cummings calls “a strategic move to expand the business
programme offerings and raise the bar in higher education”.
“We are particularly interested in bringing
in a professor who understands the dynamics of the financial services sector
and does continuous research in this area. We also want to bring someone on
board who can undertake specialised lectures on compelling topics to the
business community,” he says.
Dr Cummings recognises that, in order to
grow and continue to be a dynamic institution, the College needs to build more
connections with the private sector.
“Bringing in the right professor who will
engage businesses as well as students is a big part of that strategy,” he
Guest lecturer programme
While instructors have always had the
academic freedom to bring in guest lecturers into the classroom, the college is
now also initiating a formal pilot programme this term to actively seek more
leaders and experts with specific industry experience in a range of fields,
such as trusts, captive insurance, broadcasting, tourism and hedge funds.
This will benefit students tremendously
because they can learn first hand from the insights on trends, issues,
competitive factors and overall business environment in the industry of the
“I believe that this will give our students
more direct exposure to a range of areas as well as valuable professional
contacts. Guest lecturers benefit by
using their knowledge and expertise to educate and interact with the community
in a meaningful way and gain exposure to the teaching environment. It is my belief
that the combination will create more connections with the business community,”
Dr Cummings comments.
Looking ahead to the next 40 years for the
ICCI, Dr Cummings says it will continue, first and foremost, to serve the
people of the Cayman Islands and by doing so will continue to increase the
level of education on the island.
“This will increase the ability for those
attending to find better jobs not only in terms of money but it will also
improve the upward mobility that our students have achieved in the past and
will continue to do in the future.”