27 October, 2009

St James

Does the St James School of Medicine of Bonaire really have a second campus in Anguilla?  That is what prospective students have been emailing me to find out.  Do we have a School of Medicine in Anguilla that no one knows about?  There have been rumours, I tell them, but there is no trace of a place of medical education in Anguilla. 

I am sure everyone remembers what the Minister of Finance said during the last Budget Address:

Finally, Mr Speaker, I am happy to say that the St. James Medical School, which Government granted approval by way of a Memorandum of Agreement in 2005, has received provisional accreditation from the regional body and is currently awaiting licensing.  It is due to begin matriculating students in Anguilla next year.  The Medical School will initially operate out of rented premises but within 3-5 years, as per the terms of the MOA, will construct its own purpose built state of the art campus facilities.  Mr Speaker we have high hopes for the St. James Medical School.  The students at the St. James Medical School, which is expected to grow to some 250 persons overtime, will be a boon to the local apartment rental market as well as provide other benefits to the Anguillian economy.

We have been patiently waiting to see what develops with this promised medical school.  We all want to know who is to be the favoured party supporter in whose direction the contracts will be steered.

Then, one of our local rental agents this week got a request from an individual looking for an apartment to rent in The Quarter because “… I will be attending the Saint James School of Medicine in January”.  This alerted me that something may be happening.  So, I decided to go to the website of the St James School of Medicine to see what I could learn. 

Sure enough, there is now a whole section for their campus here in Anguilla.  That is very new.  It was not there the last time I looked.

 There is even a picture of the school building.

 …complete with a big sign on the front and logos on the door – even cars parked in front of it! 

Look familiar?

Well, here’s the same building as it looks today…

…located on the curve in the main road in The Quarter in front of Babrow’s.

But wait – the building appears from the outside to be empty and unfurnished.  Where are the sign and the logos on the door that we see in the photograph above?  And the same car is parked in the same place!  Someone, maybe, doing a little work with Photoshop?  Making an empty building look like one that is in use?

A discussion on one of the online forums asks if the school is moving from Bonaire to Anguilla?  The response:

Saint James is not moving it's [sic] campus from Bonaire to Anguilla.  The school had to open a 2nd campus in order to meet accreditation requirements.   They has [sic] to have a back up campus in case of an emergency or natural disaster.  The new campus on Anguilla is starting it's [sic] first class of students for the Spring of 2010 and the Campus on Bonaire will continue to be on Bonaire.

It is pointless to speculate, as some have, that this could be just a “phantom campus” with a PO Box, to meet accreditation requirements.

One other speculation is that the Premedical Program will NOT be offered in Anguilla – just the Basic Science Program and the Clinical Science Program.  So, this means it could be just classroom work – or it might be devoted to remote learning via computer.

What is more factual and interesting is that tuition for the 4-year Basic Science Program taken in Anguilla is almost 1½ times the cost of the same program if enrolled in Bonaire -  US $26,000 in Anguilla vs. $18,000 in Bonaire, with housing expenses shown being $800/month here vs. $500 in Bonaire.

So this raises the question:  if you are a student, why would you enroll in the school here in Anguilla – right now just an empty building – when for much less money, you can attend the large, well attended, well equipped campus in Bonaire and take the same courses?

You may recall the post I did about this medical school in June.  The regional body that gives accreditation to medical schools is the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP).  I reported then that they had given provisional approval for the Anguilla Campus of the St James School of Medicine.  One of the conditions of this provisional accreditation was that the St James School was obliged to put a warning in all their promotional material in words to the effect that accreditation of the Anguilla campus was only provisional.  That was to alert students not to make a financial commitment to a campus that did not yet exist.  As they worded their decision:

 I am certain the St James School would have done just that and not misled students.  Clearly, they cannot open their doors to students until they get final approval.  So, I visited the CAAM-HP website to check on the current state of the approval.  This is what I found. 

So, as per the CAAM-HP website above, the St James School of Medicine is not yet accredited to teach in Anguilla.  That decision is still "to be announced".  No doubt, everything will be cleared up before they start taking any money from any students who think they are coming to an accredited school of medicine in Anguilla in January.

Let’s hope there are no games being played here that could possibly embarrass Anguilla in any way.

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