University of the Commonwealth Caribbean: Helping Professionals to Enchance their Careers

For most people, their learning stops after they graduate with a degree. They go on to take jobs to start their professional journey. After reaching a certain point in their profession, many of these professionals wish to learn skills that will help them to further elevate in their profession. However, enrolling again to attend college isn’t a viable option for them.

Many of the working professionals struggle to balance their work and their studies. As they climb the ladder of their corporate journey, an increase in their responsibilities makes it harder for them to further pursue their education. Hence, the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) has come up with programs that help these working-class professionals to fulfill their aspirations.

Formerly known as the University College of the Caribbean, UCC is Jamaica’s largest non-affiliated, privately held university offering professional Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs, as well as customized non-degree training programs.

UCC’s vision is to provide broad-based educational opportunities through partnerships, flexible delivery modes and access to finance in an environment where high standards, truth, respect, and the dignity of the person are embraced.

How it all started

UCC was established in January 2004, with an initial focus on providing more accessible, high quality and flexible educational programs to Jamaicans. The institution was formed after the acquisition by the Institute of Management Science Ltd. (IMS) of the Institute of Management and Production (IMP). This merger occurred in January 2002 and created the nation’s first University College, the University of the Caribbean (UCC).

UCC, in partnership with Florida International University (FIU), the University of Florida (UF) and the Florida State University (FSU), embarked on a major initiative to launch in June 2005, a number of new programs including degrees in Business, Information Technology and Engineering.

In May 2005, the University obtained official recognition and registered center status from the University of London to offer both the Diploma in Law (now the Certificate in Education in Common Law) and the Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB).

The main campus and headquarters of UCC are at 17 Worthington Avenue with satellite campuses at Old Hope Road and Oxford Terrace locations in Kingston and five regional campuses at locations in Montego Bay, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, and May Pen.

UCC draws students from a broad range of industries, employed in senior-level managerial roles within the public and private sectors. It provides an attractive, flexible program schedule, personalized to individual personalities. These are often in range for students who are early risers, can attend full-time courses, available in week-day evenings, and can comfortably study on Sundays. Several programs are delivered online via ‘UCC Online’ which adopts a distance learning platform (Moodle) to deliver UCC’s degree programs.

Notable Accreditations

For delivering quality education UCC has been bestowed with Accreditation from its host country and international ones. Its academic programs are accredited by the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), the official accreditation body for tertiary education in the country. It is currently a candidate for Institutional Accreditation by the Council and is in the final stages of this process.

UCC has achieved international institutional accreditation by the UK-based Accreditation Services for International Colleges and Universities (ASIC).

Academic Programs

UCC provides accredited baccalaureate and Master’s degrees as well as doctoral degrees, the latter in collaboration with the University of Sunderland in the UK. The major subject areas include:

  • Business Administration
  • Law
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology
  • Marketing and
  • Tourism & Hospitality.

It includes three academic schools: Business and Management, Technology and Mathematics and Humanities and Law. All graduate-level programs are managed by the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

An Exemplary Leader

Leading an institution requires personalities who have an unquenchable thirst for innovation and growth. They are constantly seeking innovative ways to help their communities thrive. Dr. Winston Adams, Founder and Executive Chairman of the University of Commonwealth Caribbean Group of Companies (UCC) and its subsidiaries is one such personality who is constantly striving to lead the University towards Excellence.

In 1987, he was the Caribbean recipient of the prestigious USAID Scholarship Award (Latin American & Caribbean, LAC) to study Chemical Engineering at Howard University in the United States. Upon his return to Jamaica, he worked with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, PetroJam as a Chemical (Process) Engineer and lectured part-time with the University of Technology, UTECH.

In 1992, he pioneered the establishment of the Institute of Management Sciences (IMS) which in just ten years, emerged as one of the most successful private higher educational institutions in Jamaica.

Dr. Adams created history in 2002 with the successful acquisition of the prestigious 27-year-old Institute of Management and Production (IMP) by IMS. This acquisition resulted in the largest privately-held higher education group in Jamaica.

Having recognized the importance of a highly trained and qualified workforce in the country’s development thrust, Dr. Adams decided to address this need on a national scale. Thus, he sought to enhance tertiary educational opportunities for more Jamaicans in both rural and urban areas, by setting up campuses throughout the world.

Dr. Adams has received a range of awards and recognition for his work. In 1998, he was nominated by the American Biographical Institute (ABI) for the Distinguished Leadership Award. He has also been selected for inclusion in the International Directory of Distinguished Leadership for outstanding service to human resource development.

In 2004, he was honored as a Jamaican Observer Business Leader for his vision and creativity in establishing ‘Jamaica’s foremost private higher educational institution.’ He is the first and only Business Leader to have nominated in the higher education sector.

Dr. Adams has a doctorate in Business Administration with an emphasis on strategic leadership and disruptive innovation as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Florida International University. He is a Justice of Peace, a Distinguished former President of the largest Kiwanis community service organization in Jamaica, the Kiwanis Club of North St. Andrew (KCNSA) and a member of the Education Committee of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, PSOJ.

He is also the Vice President of the Jamaica Association of Private Tertiary Institutions (JAPTI) and immediate past Chairman of the Joint Committee on Tertiary Education (JCTE).

Extracurricular Activities

UCC takes pride in nurturing students so that they will leave the University equipped for the world. Through its various planned activities, UCC’s students are exposed to outreach, advocacy, sports, and a host of other disciplines.

The University offers extra-curricular activities and programs that foster the intellectual and personal development of students, consistent with UCC’s mission. Its Department of Student Affairs provides information on concerning co-curricular and extra-curricular activities such as: UCC Community Outreach Club, Circle K, UCC’s Music Club, Inter-Christian Club and Fellowship, UCC’s Dance Society, UCC Toastmaster Club, UCC IT Club, and the Debate Society. These clubs meet weekly each semester and plan various student engagement activities that benefit the entire student population.

Along with the above, UCC also conducts various recreational activities. Its sports programs include football where its Male Football team participates in the annual Intercollegiate championship. It is also planning to include a female football team soon.

Apart from football, the University conducts various exciting games such as Table Tennis, Netball, Dominoes, Obstacle Race and Track and Field, which are part of UCC’s Annual Fun and Sports Day. Additionally, students can always look forward to various themed parties and other social events to enhance their experience.

Innovative Learning Ways

UCC takes the following steps, to make the learning interesting and enriching for students’ educational experience:

  • Project-based assignments that emphasize group work and completing practical tasks relevant to the course learning outcomes
  • Practical sessions, including sessions in a Culinary Arts Lab for courses such as Food and Beverage Management.
  • Internships for programs such as Social Work, Tourism and Hospitality Management
  • Occupational Safety and Health Courses that include First Aid and CPR certification
  • Information Technology that includes Professional Certification Courses
  • University-wide annual Research Conferences that include Poster Presentations done by students
  • Applied Research presentations are done once per semester at which students present their research work before a panel of judges and in the presence of their peers
  • Opportunities for students to participate in subject-specific competitions with other tertiary institutions.

UCC provides students with information and guidance concerning opportunities intended to facilitate their academic and professional success. It has developed and designed academic programs to cater to the changing needs of modern organizations. With these programs, it aims to engage young, mature students as well as working professionals and to enhance lifelong learning for adult learners.

Helping Students in their Accomplishment

UCC offers career seminars, expos and workshops, which are focused on leveraging academic and workforce knowledge into relevant career development and career management. It also facilitates personal and academic counseling sessions with trained professionals.

Faculty members of UCC maintain contact with the business or their professional field and are au fait with the latest developments, in industry or commerce. Additionally, students who are enrolled within a number of its programs participate in the mandatory internship.

The University has recently launched UCC Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology Center. With its establishment, UCC wants to facilitate its students and faculty members, structured opportunities. This will help them to groom themselves in an entrepreneurial manner, using the best technological practices with key goals related to the University curricula. It also encourages students’ creativity (learning to fail fast), as well as faculty applied research publication; enhancing UCC’s profile in the higher education and business sectors.

Through the use of the Center, the University aims to develop a culture of innovation, yielding new start-ups, generating skilled and high-paying jobs, and contributing to sustainable economic growth for Jamaica. Eventually, the university believes these initiatives will drive the growth of UCC and the Jamaican educational sphere for many years to come.

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