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Caribbean Pacific Island education scheme plans to net more students

The largest south-south European Union-funded higher education mobility programme hopes to attract more students from the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

In the last round, not enough students from these regions applied for the education programme, and the organizers are hoping they will net more students in the next round of the Caribbean Pacific Island Mobility Scheme (CARPIMS II). The time for applications open next month and close on March 2013.

A European Commission official, who did not want to be named, told Research Caribbean that based on previous experiences, the available budget was kept at the same level as the previous budget for the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

“While there was a satisfactorily high level of applications submitted in the first year of selection for Africa, there is nevertheless still a need to achieve a more balanced regional spread among applications for the Caribbean and Pacific regions,” the Commission spokesman said.

Sharan Chandradath Singh, Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement and Internationalisation at the University of the West Indies who coordinates the programme, said they will follow a strategic marketing and communications plan which will focus not only on promotional activities within the partner institutions, but also partnerships with external agencies to ensure a wider reach.

Singh said the regional marketing will mainly rope in the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) who have the widest reach in the region.

University-wide marketing and communications strategies conducted by the UWI in the first phase reached a total of 16 Caribbean countries, while 12 South Pacific countries were reached by the USP.

Partnerships with organisations such as the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA) which will promote the programme to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) throughout the Caribbean will also be explored.

UNICA’s reach is equally important as its association is comprised of French and Spanish speaking institutions which the CARPIMS II coordinators would not usually have access to, said Singh.

“Promotional appearances on national television to discuss the programme and its benefit to the region as well as press releases and advertisements in regional newspapers and magazines will take place,” Singh told Research Caribbean.

The promotion of CARPIMS II has also been channeled to social media.

“This will entail not only posts on all partner institutions’ Facebook pages, but the utilization of Facebook advertising to reach the targeted audience.” Singh said.

Video testimonials of current CARPIMS scholars that will be made available on YouTube will be used to promote the second phase, he said.

The first CARPIMS group of July this year had over 1000 applications with 161 being submitted for final selection.

Singh said CARPIMS II applicants must display not only an exceptional academic background, but a convincing vision of how they intend to make a significant contribution to the advancement of their home countries.

“CARPIMS II applicants must also have a keen appreciation for cultural exchange and show an innovative spirit which will enable them to become leaders in their fields,” he said.

The CARPIMS II will make a total of 90 scholarships available, offered in 2 groups; 48 will be full Master’s, 11 are for PhD mobility, 7 for full PhDs and 24 are reserved for staff mobility.