By: Suzell Wray
Kingston, Jamaica- Students enrolled at the Northern Caribbean University’s (NCU) Eastern Regional Kingston Campus (EJRC) have expressed their concern with the university’s decision to offer classes mostly online for the upcoming academic year.
During a virtual meeting on the university’s aeorion system on Sunday, July 26, 2020, students explained that they’re already foreseeing challenges with working online as well as looming financial difficulties.
President of the EJRC Behavioural Sciences Club, Sherene Carty said some students are without internet access which will prove difficult if classes are online. She also explained that most students will not have a laboratory requirement for their courses, which is a prerequisite issued by NCU for students to attend school physically.
“Most of the students here are social work majors and we sometimes have internet difficulties. I had the impression that we would at least be able to use the labs under strict social distancing or even a rotating system,” she explained.
United Student Movement (USM) President, Kavion Allen in response, assured them provisions will be made for students to access the school’s resources on all campuses, a move that would require altering the campus’s opening hours to students.
Allen also informed the over 20 participants at the meeting, that USM along with the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS) have made efforts to partner with the government to enable students to access online services at a reduced cost.
“We had a meeting in March with the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the Minister of Science and we pressured the government to have conversations with Digicel and Flow to make the online portal for every university student a zero-rated cost.”
Allen shared that he has submitted the university’s aeorion link and he was informed that once a student has data while utilizing the link they will be able to roam without incurring the usual charges.
Meanwhile, Acting Assistant Director of the Campus, Tanya Cousins informed students that they will not be affected by the fees that would’ve remained for those on the main campus since general fees are not a requirement for the regional campuses.
“On the regional campus, you aren’t charged general fees. You’d notice that your tuition has always said tuition and a Jam copy, modular fee. So, our fees have not been affected in any way.”
She added that if a student from any of the regional campuses happens to sit a course from the main campus the fee is removed just the same. Students who expressed their need for financial assistance were encouraged to apply for scholarships and grants being offered by NCU.
In a news release issued earlier this month, the seventh-day Adventist institution announced that
students will be taught remotely or fully online for the 2020/2021 academic year.
It added, however, that face-to-face sessions will be held for students engaged in laboratory work or practicums, noting that students without access to computers and internet service will be allowed on campus.
The Kingston-based extension campus enrolls approximately 120 students in the day school and 400 students in the evening or modular sessions not including nurses. Also present at the meeting was USM’s Executive Vice-President of EJRC, Shenese Austin.