By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Georgia State University that will facilitate expanded collaboration between the institution and The Bahamas.
As a part of the agreement, Georgia State University (GSU) is also expected to introduce a tuition waiver policy that would match local scholarships granted to Bahamian students.
The memorandum, which was arranged through the Ministry of Education's Scholarship and Educational Loans Division over the past year, was signed during a brief ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister by Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd and senior representatives of GSU.
According to Mr Lloyd, the general purpose of the memorandum is to formalise various levels of cooperation between the Bahamas government and GSU which will allow both parties to explore and encourage mutually beneficial scientific, technological and educational relations.
"Discussion developed into collaboration and exchange between our two entities, and now we are there to commemorate the birth of an exciting partnership," Mr Lloyd said Friday.
"As all of us know, the relationship between the Bahamas and the United States is a strong one, vibrant and solid one that dates back hundreds of years.
"There are tens of thousands of Bahamians who live and work and visit and study in the United States, and so our economies are deeply integrated. The ties that bind our two nations extend naturally to our people and our families," he added.
The memorandum calls for GSU to host the Organisation of American States (OAS) scholarship recipients from the Bahamas at two of its campuses in Atlanta, Georgia.
Additionally, the agreements call for GSU to, with its relationships in sports, research and the field of education, expand its relationship with the Ministry of Education to include human resource courses and capacity development.
Mr Lloyd said human resource and capacity development has been one of the ministry's priority focus areas over the next four years.
Thirdly, the memorandum will see GSU and the Ministry of Education explore recruitment, retention and graduation co-curriculum and articulation programmes, inclusive of dual degree and graduate programmes.
Moreover, the agreement will allow Bahamian students to take part in Georgia State's international flagship programmes for global engagement.
Lastly, the agreement articulates GSU's willingness to offer matching scholarships in the form of out-of-state tuition waivers to Bahamian students, in particular, high achieving, first-generation Bahamian students supported by our own scholarship programmes.
Mr Lloyd also revealed that GSU is particularly keen on providing Family Island students with opportunities to access tertiary level education, a focus, he said, the Minnis administration views as of the utmost importance, as it "undergirds" the government's commitment to providing "inclusive and equitable education across the archipelago of our islands."
Mr Lloyd said the agreement aligns with areas of the government's mission to ensure that qualified Bahamian students are connected with transformative scholarship opportunities and resources that will enable the pursuit of tertiary level education, resulting in globally competitive citizens who are nation builders.
GSU associate provost for International initiatives, Dr Wolfgang Schlor, who spearheaded the institution's efforts on Friday, said the memorandum marks a new chapter in the relationship between GSU and the Bahamas.
"I believe we have a lot to offer to your students," he said.
"This memorandum of cooperation builds on a strong legacy of previous partnerships and collaboration between Georgia State University and the Bahamas. We have, for a long-time, received students from the Bahamas at Georgia State University," he added.