UMSL welcomes cohort of students from The Bahamas after partnering with Ministry of Education

Members of the cohort of UMSL students from the Bahamas gather in the Millennium Student Center

UMSL has welcomed a cohort of first-year students from The Bahamas this semester after establishing a partnership with the country’s Ministry of Education. The students are part of the Public School Scholars Programme or the National Tuition Assistance Scholarship program. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A partnership between the University of Missouri–St. Louis and the Ministry of Education in The Bahamas has brought a cohort of 20 first-year students from the Caribbean country to St. Louis this semester.

The students are part of the Public School Scholars Programme or received the National Tuition Assistance Scholarship. The Public School Scholars Programme was instituted in The Bahamas in 2015 to promote college readiness, equity and access in the public school system. The Ministry of Education provides each student enrolled in the program with guaranteed scholarship awards ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 – and matched by awards from one of its 33 partner institutions in the United States and Canada – for up to four years.

The National Tuition Assistance Scholarship, meanwhile, assists students who are currently pursuing professional, technical, graduate or postgraduate studies and has a maximum value of $7,500 per year at internationally accredited institutions, colleges and universities.

Reggie Hill, UMSL’s vice chancellor for strategic enrollment, finalized the agreement to become a partner with the Ministry of Education in January after previously signing similar agreements while working in admissions at St. Leo University and the University of the Ozarks.

“One of the things that the University of Missouri–St. Louis offers is being a tier 1 public research institution,” Hill said. “The Ministry of Education in The Bahamas has what they consider high-need academic areas, and the majors that we offer here are neatly aligned with the national interests and the economic interests of The Bahamas.

“I knew UMSL’s brand, degree offerings and its location – being in St. Louis, Missouri, a diverse community, not only cultural community but economically – would attract Bahamian students.”

To take part in the Public School Scholars Programme or the National Tuition Assistance Scholarship program, students must display a genuine interest in a career of national priority as well as leadership and character traits and also demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities and contributions to their school community.

Steven J. Berberich, UMSL’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, and Liane Constantine, executive director of UMSL Global, have been strong supporters of the agreement.

This fall, the Bahamian students have joined first-year students from at least 28 countries spread across five continents, enriching the diversity of the campus community.

“Most of UMSL’s domestic students will not have the opportunity to participate in study abroad and get an exposure to education in a global setting,” Berberich said. “By bringing more students from different countries to our campus, we provide opportunities for our domestic students to interact across cultures bringing a more global education experience to our campus.”

Being joined by so many of their countrymen should help ease the adjustment each student has living on their own and away from home as they immerse themselves in the UMSL community.

Hill believes that will be a benefit when it comes to retaining students.

“They’ll not only connect with each other, but also there’s an expectation through the Ministry of Education that they continue on,” Hill said. “These students are highly selected as students who have performed well in high school and also on their national tests. They come with economic support from their government. The expectation is that these students graduate in four years.”

Hill said at other institutions in the past, students who were part of the Public School Scholars Programme or the National Tuition Assistance Scholarship program had retention rates of more than 90%. UMSL also has strong academic support services in place to help ensure students’ success.


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