How does Caribbean Maritime University contribute to making Jamaica a logistics hub?
This institution represents a transformation in the Jamaican education and training landscape at the tertiary level. For years, we operated as a closed economy. We would import many goods, primarily bananas and sugar, and export certain services such as tourism. As globalization took root, we saw the pattern of world trade shifting from north to south. We were no longer just importing from Europe, but from China and the Far East. The most direct route would be goods arriving on the west coast and going through the Panama Canal, which was a shortcut to the Caribbean and the east coast of the US, though these were limited by the size of access. Up until 2016, they could only take ships carrying 4,800TEUs. Back in 2005, when the expansion of the Canal was being planned, the largest ship afloat was 6,000TEUs, and there were projections that in the coming years it could reach 8,000TEUs. However, by the time the canal opened in 2016, ships had already surpassed 18,000TEUs. The growth in this industry is now exponential, and the canal is still not sufficient to service existing trade. The second shift has to do with how goods and services are produced globally. We are now living in a mass customization age and need to customize goods just before they reach the final consumer. It is no longer about making a final product in China and shipping it to consumers directly; it is about utilizing special economic zones (SEZs) as areas that can do the final touches and send them on. We are now leveraging our geostrategic location to create value added. This is what being a global logistics hub is about.
How is the evolution from an institute to a university helping you achieve your vision?
A large part of it is branding while another is funding; at the end of the day, people perceive institutes and universities differently. It gives us a larger stake in the game, and there are now funds we have access to. The government now recognizes that we play a critical role in economic development. Now that we have achieved this status, a great deal is now on our shoulders. It gives us an opportunity to add greater value and be part of the transformation.
Jamaicans used to travel abroad for higher education. Is that paradigm shifting today?
That is correct. We have students coming here now for education from all around the world—from Africa, Egypt, Peru, the US, and Europe. Human capital is critical because we are dealing with high-level skills that are the most important when attracting companies to the SEZ. In our core programs, international students comprise about 10%, which we hope to increase. We now have a campus in Antigua and are looking to penetrate both Africa and China soon. That is in our five-year plan. We also have many international certifications. We have been certified by Lloyd's for our quality management system and have institutional accreditation from the Accreditation Service for International Schools (ASIC) in the UK. What's more, seven of our degrees are fully accredited by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK. We are the only whitelisted trading institution in the English-speaking Caribbean. We have neutral recognition from the UK and EU in terms of maritime trade. We are second to none, offering a similar or even better education at lower rates.
How do you apply the "blue ocean strategy" to your institution?
We redefined the maritime tertiary education space. The traditional approach was to offer degrees and produce programs catering only to the cognitive side of learners, leaving the practical skills for training institutions. We ventured into a section of the market that everyone said should never be touched at the tertiary level: affective domain and getting into the psyche of their behavior.