By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE University of the Bahamas hasy welcomed nearly 1,600 first-time students for the upcoming fall semester.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of orientation on Wednesday, Dr Rodney Smith, UB president, said about 5,000 students are currently attending the university and there has been an increase of international students. He said a goal of the university is to attract more international students.
Dr Smith said: “Once we transitioned to the University of the Bahamas, two things began to happen: Bahamians began transferring back home from colleges in the United States and Canada, and we also had an increase in the number of students who’ve expressed an interest from around the world.
“I think right now we might have about 15 or 20 different countries represented on our campus amongst our largest numbers are students from the United States. We are looking to increase those numbers as well in the months and years ahead.”
He also said: “The housing registry that we just started this year that was actually a suggestion of the country’s prime minister. We will be using different homes throughout the island in New Providence to welcome more international students and not just Family Island students looking for housing. We can do cultural immersion programmes with international students.”
Dr Smith added the university is “moving in the right direction” in an attempt to offer students more study abroad opportunities.
He said: “I think the government tertiary grant will help us to propel even further and faster with a policy that requires all university undergraduates to have at least one study abroad experience by the end of their third year; return home; finish their fourth year (at UB), and graduate from the University of the Bahamas.
“That programme is moving ahead very well, and we are asking our private scholarship donors to begin looking seriously at changing the criteria for their scholarships and making them scholarships for study abroad experiences. “
The university has faced many issues with deferred payment plans in the past resulting in students waiting on long lines for hours at a time. Mr Smith said with the new digitized registration system student “no longer have to come in for that.”
He said: “Everything a student needs to do now to register for classes, to pay their bills and everything else can now be done online and using their phones.”
The government introduced a policy this year providing free tuition for UB students who met certain requirements. The policy was a campaign promise of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.