Western Courier

Bahamians pick Western for Education

Lenisha Bolton

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Along with nine other universities in the United States and Canadian region, Western Illinois University has recently been selected as a preferred education provider for future undergraduate and graduate students from the Bahamas.

Western’s Director of Distance Learning Jeff Hancks said that the Bahamian government sent out the proposal through the Organization of American States (OAS), a non-governmental agency located in the Washington, D.C. area.

“The Bahamian government was looking for schools in the U.S. and Canada who could provide (students) with various specific degree programs that they need for their people to have training in,” Hancks said. “On the behalf of the Bahamian government, the OAS decided to send out a proposal for universities in U.S. and Canada to apply to be a provider of education for students in the Bahamas.”

Currently, Western has about 500 international students, which is, a healthy number, but according to Hancks they would like to increase it.

“We have a lot of international students current coming from Asia and the Middle East,” Hancks said. “We don’t have that many international students coming from the Western Hemisphere. We want to diversify the places where international students come from.”

Assistant Director of Marketing and International Relations at Western Christine Carmack said Bahamian students will be able to apply up to three out of the nine universities. Then the Bahamian government will offer grants for their students to attend the schools they got accepted in to.

“For example, if they applied to Western Illinois University, Colorado State University and the University of Florida and they got accepted to all three of those schools,” Hancks said. “Then they would take their letters of admission to the ministry of education in the Bahamas and the Bahamas would make the final decision.”

Applicants will be accepted based on their ACT scores and GPA. Carmack said along with their application fee being waivered, the Bahamian government will give students $7,500 in scholarships a year. They are also able to receive scholarships based on the Western Commitment Scholarships chart.

“The top-level scholarship is $10,000 a year,” Hancks said. “So, if they got the top Western scholarship and the Bahamas’ government scholarship, they’ll have $17,500 a year. Plus, they’ll get $3,000 for the international commitment scholarship, so they’ll get over $20,000, which should pay for their entire education here.”

Hancks also said that the Bahamian government will provide funding for 25 of their students for the fall 2017 semester.

Degree plans for undergraduate students include: agriculture, anthropology, construction management, engineering, fire protection services, foreign language and literature, hospitality management, political science, RPTA and geography GIS. The master’s degree plan includes: political science, geography, RPTA, museum studies and geography.

“If you think about the Bahamas, it’s a tourist-based economy,” Hancks said. “So, they’re very interested in hospitality, recreation, parks and tourism. It makes sense that this is what the Bahamian government wants their citizens to be skilled in because they need lots of tourism-based industries in the Bahamas.”

President Jack Thomas said in a press release that he is excited to have students from the Bahamas on Western’s campus.

“We are pleased that Western has been selected by the Bahamian government to participate in this pilot program,” Thomas said. “Our goal is to continue to enhance our university’s globalization efforts and provide outstanding educational opportunities to students from around the world. We look forward to welcoming Bahamian students to our country and to our university.”

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Bahamians pick Western for Education