British Virgin Islands (BVI) – The government of the Virgin Islands has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation and positive academic relations with the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.
The MoU presents a wide range of opportunities for exchanges and collaboration in higher education between the Virgin Islands and the University of Hertfordshire. These include student, faculty and staff exchanges, supported distance learning programmes and collaboration on joint research projects between the University of Hertfordshire and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the Virgin Islands.
The agreement with the university came about as a result of the wider partnership between the Virgin Islands and Hertfordshire County in the UK. Premier and minister of finance, Andrew A. Fahie while speaking on the relationship stated that the relationship began with the exchange between sports officials in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Premier Fahier said subsequently, ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, several BVI Olympic athletes were hosted by a group of kind families in the Hertfordshire village of Aston during their training period. And since then, the relationship has blossomed.
“A group of Hertfordshire education officials visited the Territory in 2014 to deliver training to newly qualified teachers and complete work in early childhood education,” the premier added. “We have also had a BVI environmental and fisheries officer visit with colleagues in Hertfordshire to discuss environmental management; and on the BVI side, we have been pleased to host a number of Hertfordshire County graduate management trainees at our BVI London Office for their familiarisation days.”
Deputy premier and minister for education, culture, youth affairs, fisheries and agriculture, Dr Natalio D. Wheatley stated that the partnership will benefit the Territory tremendously and complement the existing tertiary programmes on offer at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC). “Teacher training, special needs education, agriculture and tourism are priority areas that come to mind. I also see this partnership as a great opportunity for research in areas of mutual interest,” Wheatley said.
President of the HLSCC, Dr Richard Georges reiterated the benefits of the partnership and the importance of collaboration adding that he was pleased to see the signing of the agreement between the government and the University of Hertfordshire.
The MoU between the Virgin Islands and Hertfordshire County was signed in November 2011, is approaching its 10-year anniversary. The twinning partnership allows for collaboration in areas of mutual interest including sports, education, higher education opportunities, community engagement, supporting those with physical disabilities, developing community link, youth behavioural interventions, economic development and graduate work experience exchanges. The BVI London office acts as point of liaison for the partnership in the UK.
“It provides a framework by which the college can engage in fruitful partnership in key priority areas as well as opportunities for students, faculty, and even staff exchange. The world is ever-shrinking and it is important for us to embrace the spirit of collaboration and partnership to face the challenges of the future,” Dr Georges said.