Offshore medical university targets 3,000 foreign students in next five years
By Leonard Gildarie
An offshore medical school which started operations in Guyana two years
ago has announced plans to bring over 3,000 students in the next five years.
Speaking with Kaieteur News earlier this week, Saju Bhaskar, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Texila American University (TAU) also announced plans for a major expansion of the facility in Guyana, amidst high interest.
“Education Tourism”, as Bhaskar coined the term, is a major contributor to the economy of a number of Caribbean territories, with St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Grenada and St. Kitts among the places which have established offshore universities, which mainly focus on foreign students.
It is estimated that each student spends a whopping US$10,000 annually for food, transportation, rent and other activities.
“These are monies that countries are desperate to attract and it is a good thing for Guyana.”
Guyana is also a good thing for the university. Not only was the setting-up process way below other places in terms of cost, but Guyana’s location in South America and the fact it is the only English-speaking country in that continent, is also a big plus.”
Since its establishment in 2010, the university has signed an agreement with the Critchlow Labour College, Woolford Avenue, and has been utilizing the premises for classes.
It started with 75 students last year, with 25 of them locals, all doing medicine and dentistry.
There are eight nationalities attending classes at the university, Bhaskar revealed.
Already, the facility has shipped in a large quantity of equipment and other material, and has established a number of modern labs.
“We are being marketed in 10-12 countries now, including the US. We are targeting especially North America. Currently, we have students from US, India, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and the UK, with both local and foreign lecturers being utilized.”
Texila has quietly been going about its business, but is making its mark on the tourism economy, with students visiting Splashmin’s and embarking on planned trips for the interior.
“We have also signed an agreement with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation where students can do clinical training. Agreements have also been reached with the US, Canada and Philippines to do clinical training, if the students want to.”
Locally, the university has established relations with the Cheddi Jagan Dental School, but is still awaiting word of a possible collaboration with the University of Guyana.
“This September, we are also starting our nursing programme. There is huge interest in this. We had people coming from the University of West England, Bristol. The idea is for the students to spend two years here and two in the UK for training.
“These are licences that can be used to practice in the UK and US as nurses. They can also transfer to US universities. We are now looking for land and building to expand, as our facilities will become too small.
TAU is registered with the National Accredition Council and World Health Organization, and its certificates are recognized in the US, UK, India, New Zealand and Canada, among other places. According to Bhaskar, the school is currently working on an agreement that will see graduating students being able to practice in all CARICOM countries.
“For this September, we have 400-500 applications already in. Guyanese students are currently being subsidized, paying around US$3,500 yearly. The foreign students are US$6,000.”
The Indian national, in explaining Guyana as a choice, noted that India simply does not have enough schools. With its huge population, there are 300 schools of medicine there and with 415,000 applications, only 40,000 students are being accepted.
“In the US, half of the 50,000 applicants are accepted. So it is a huge potential and market for Guyana.”
But the school is also eyeing Nigeria and Ghana in Africa, to attract students.
“Nigeria has four or five schools but with a population of 150 million, there are not enough seats available. This is also an attractive market.”
A number of students from Nigeria and Ghana are currently attending classes in Guyana.
TAU is also cognizant of the fact that quite a number of Guyanese are studying in the region, paying far more for the same course.
“So we have our market.”
The university says it is using a mixture of lab-based education and technology to conduct classes, in keeping with new teaching standards. The lecturers and students are now preparing for a community outreach to conduct eye and dentistry clinics.
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