Caribbean ‘security web’ for BU grads

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This article has been published 30/3/2016 (1763 days ago) the information it contains may no longer be current.

TOM BATEMAN / THE BRANDON SUN

Gervan Fearon, President of Brandon University, left, and Benjamin Robinson, Assistant Director of Admissions at St. George’s University in Grenada, Canada, sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the BU on Tuesday. The agreement, which guarantees access for BU science graduates to St. George’s, is expected to send up to six additional students to the West Indies each year.

The President of Brandon University, Gervan Fearon, wrote a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday that makes it easier for pre-professional science students at the BU to become a doctor or veterinarian via a stay on the southern tip of an idyllic Caribbean island.

Provided they are academically up to date, BU Science graduates now have access to medical and veterinary schools at St. George’s University in Grenada, in the southeastern Caribbean.

“You start out by saying that this is your path. That doesn’t preclude this person from having this guarantee and continuing to apply to the University of Manitoba,” said Fearon.

The agreement will serve as a “safety net” for aspiring doctors in the BU who miss the cut for one of U of M’s 110 spots, he said.

But the safety net isn’t cheap. According to the University of Canada Assistant Director of Admissions, Dr. Benjamin Robinson, who was in Wheat City to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, costs $ 52,000 for a year of tuition at St. George’s.

In 2014, the New York Times estimated tuition and school fees at $ 246,400 for four years. Robinson added that there are academic and needs-based scholarships at the SGU.

The annual University of Manitoba medical school fees and costs are approximately $ 12,700.

“If (the students) later decide to go to Manitoba, we will be the first to congratulate them,” said Robinson, a graduate of SGU Medical School himself. “But at the end of the day, it’s so competitive to be in a Canadian medical program. It gives them the opportunity to do what their dreams are.

“We have some of the best beaches in the world … It’s a very safe place, it’s a $ 350 million campus.”

Austin Gulliver, the BU’s assistant dean of science, said an average of five or six graduates from the BU’s science program are enrolled at U of M Medical School. Tuesday’s agreement could send up to six more students to the West Indies each year.

Currently, according to Gulliver, a small number of BU pre-medicine students are going overseas, mainly in schools in Australia, the Caribbean and the United States

“The difficulty for them is getting back to (Canada) … that’s a bit of a problem for residences. This will help get around that barrier,” he said.

Internships are structured preferentially for students in Canadian medical schools. Students who have studied elsewhere are eligible for about 10 percent of Canadian stays, Gulliver said.

However, SHE graduates are often competitive for these internships.

“Our student success rate is amazing – we’ve put more dormitories in the past six years combined than any other medical school in the world,” said Robinson.

There is a demand for new graduates. The provincial labor market forecast predicts that there will be 1,300 open positions for doctors, dentists and veterinarians in Manitoba by 2021.

“I think that in Canada they are much more careful about recruiting students and getting them back into the country,” said Gulliver.

Fearon said it was “absolutely a problem” to make sure the prospective doctors return to Manitoba after graduation in the West Indies.

“Whenever we think of local students going abroad to study, what does certification mean when they come back?” he said.

“The other side of this is that there are many international students who come to Brandon and actually hope to practice medicine in their own country. In that regard, it offers these students a benchmark.”

The MoU is part of a new focus for BU recruiters in the Caribbean and Latin America.

According to Fearon, the economic impact of international students on the Canadian economy corresponds to the national timber industry.

Of the roughly 3,200 students at the BU, five percent are currently from abroad. According to Fearon, the university hopes to increase the number of international students to 10 percent in the next three to five years.

“We want our total enrollment to grow from 3,200 to around 4,000 or just above those numbers (in three to five years),” he said.

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