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Caribbean researchers keen on studying abroad: survey shows

More than 90 per cent of researchers in the Caribbean region are prepared to undertake their postgraduate studies in Europe.

These are the preliminary results of a survey that seeks to establish the degree of willingness of Caribbean students and researchers to embrace European higher education.

Close to 600 students and researchers participated in the survey throughout the Caribbean.

The survey is part of the CaribErasmus project, which aims to build the capacity to monitor and understand the opinions, attitudes and expectations of Caribbean higher education students and researchers towards European higher education.

Italy-based AlmaLaurea, an organisation that specialises in tracing the evolution of graduates’ academic careers, carried out the survey.

Matteo Sgarzi, the head of international relations and projects at AlmaLaurea Interuniversity Consortium released the results on 19 October 2011 in Santo Domingo.

Sgarzi said 41 percent of researchers from Jamaica were keen on studying in United States of America and United Kingdom respectively.

Fifty four percent from Dominican Republic expressed willingness to study in Europe, while 52 percent of those surveyed in Trinidad and Tobago were ready to study in United Kingdom. This contrasts with respondents from the Dominican Republic, where 54 percent favoured European study and engagement.

Germany proved to be a popular destination for Trinidad and Tobagoans. Ninety-three percent of Dominican Republicans were interested in studying in Spain. Jamaicans who favoured France for their studies constituted 67 percent.

Sgarzi said that about 25 percent of the students considered jointly awarded degrees between a university in the Caribbean and other universities in Europe as the biggest vehicle to improve international collaboration.

Overall most researchers described study in Europe as organised, exciting and attractive.

An overwhelming ninety eight percent of the respondents said they would participate in an international research programme.

Almost a hundred percent attested to the positive possible impact from the implementation of the joint curricula with European universities with countries in the region.

The impact of joint research programmes was also widely acknowledged.

Shorter programmes that range from three to six months and those that are of six months to a full year in duration attracted interest of many researchers.

“By the end of June we received about 400 responses from students, and almost 200 from researchers,” said Cristina Brecciaroli, the CaribErasmus project manager.

The goal is to create a common EU-Caribbean higher education, Brecciaroli said.

The two-year CaribErasmus, also known as the Caribbean opening to Erasmus Mundus, completed its first year on 30 September 2011.

Brecciaroli, who works for the Italian-based Scienter told Research Caribbean that a final conference of the project will be held in Brussels, Belgium around June next year to present policy- and decision makers with the results of the project and some recommendations.

Scienter is a non-profit organisation, specialising in educational research and innovation with experience in running multi-national consultancy, networking activities and research activities.