The Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth – the First Nine Years

West, Paul
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

The Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is an initiative that was created by the Ministers of Education of Small States. The Ministers approved the initiative for implementation at their triennial meeting in 2003 and COL (The Commonwealth of Learning) was asked to provide the support to enable the initiative to build its base. The intention has been to build human resource capacity in the Small States, to stimulate an increase in the course offerings in those countries and to create a mechanism to enable the transfer of credits and qualified people across borders of countries. // The Initiative has been directed by representatives of the Ministries of Education who have to date, met on four occasions. The VUSSC Initiative has trained over one hundred professionals in six workshops from twenty-six of the participating countries, who have in turn trained colleagues. Ministries of Education frequently comprise less than six professional staff members. Each of the countries usually has one national university. The seemingly small numbers of people have made deep impacts, which a parallel monitoring and evaluation study continues to uncover. // Training of workshop participants has been practical and hands-on, with course materials being a by-product of the training. Course materials produced have been released under Creative Commons copyright licenses and have been included in courses offered by institutions in the Small States. The initiative has operated as a learning organisation by incorporating lessons learned throughout the implementation period from 2005 to 2009. A VUSSC Management Committee (VUSSC MC) was established to take over the leadership of the Initiative. A Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF) was conceived and established with a TQF Management Committee (TQF MC) to lead its development. The TQF MC forms a sub-committee of the VUSSC MC. // The future of VUSSC depends on the ability of the VUSSC MC to take on its leadership role in directing the VUSSC, including the important role of raising funds to continue the activities they deem appropriate. Technology and bandwidth advancements in Small States limit the potential of the VUSSC only to the imagination and efforts of the VUSSC and TQF Management Committees and all who participate in its activities.

Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC),Models and Frameworks