THE COLLEGE of the Bahamas is launching a maritime degree course.
The college has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College for a Maritime Studies Baccalaureate degree programme.
The programme is a flagship offering of the college’s northern Bahamas campus (NBC) in Grand Bahama.
As of Fall 2012, students will be able to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in either of two concentrations: Maritime Operations Unlimited Deck Licence and Maritime Operations Engine Licence.
Successful graduates will receive a degree from the college and another from SUNY Maritime College.
“The Bahamas is perfectly poised to become a centre of maritime excellence. The very existence of a Maritime Studies Baccalaureate degree programme will help to raise awareness of the maritime industry and opportunities that exist for Bahamians,” said Dr Brendamae Cleare, interim vice president for academic affairs at the college.
The programme will allow students to study at the college’s campus in Grand Bahama for the first three semesters, SUNY for the next four and the final semester will be taught at the college.
Students will spend their summers at sea, fulfilling the practical component of the degree programme and learning how to become adept seafarers.
“You get two very valuable degrees at the same time; one from the Bahamas and one from the United States.
“We’ve had a history of Bahamian students so this seemed like a very natural fit,” said Captain Walt Nadolny, vice-chairman of the Marine Transportation Department and assistant professor of environmental policy and management at SUNY Maritime College.
Dr Richard Burke, professor and chairman of engineering, added, “From our point of view as educators, the single most important thing is that we get excellent students.
“Beyond that, the United States and the Bahamas are neighbours and it is the neighbourly thing to do, to work together for a common purpose.
“And it allows us to, vicariously perhaps, share in the justifiable pride in having a flag that has become very significant in the ports of the world.”
The international shipping industry employs some 1.25 million seafarers, thousands of whom are attached to vessels that sail under the Bahamas flag, yet few Bahamians choose a profession in this sector.
More than 1,700 vessels are registered under the Bahamas’ flag.
The introduction of a Maritime Studies Baccalaureate degree programme was a deliberate move, since the Bahamas holds such a dominant position in the industry.
Students entering the programme must have earned five BGCSEs, including mathematics and physics, with a minimum C grade.
Those students who do not have the required BGCSEs for admission may enter the college’s preparatory programme. The deadline for applications is May 4, 2012.
The baccalaureate degree programme is not the college’s only strategic initiative to encourage more Bahamians to pursue professions in the maritime sector.
The institution operates a Maritime Summer Camp in collaboration with Campbell’s Shipping, designed to expose 8th and 9th graders to the intricacies of being a seafarer.
They are familiarised with career specialties including marine transportation, marine science and marine engineering.
The Maritime Summer Camp will be held again this summer.