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Another milestone in the development of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth took place in early June 2009, with the launching of a dedicated VUSSC website.

The new website will be a gateway to information on all aspects of VUSSC and will be updated on a continuous basis in order to provide current and accurate information to member states.

www.vussc.info

 

VUSSC Virtual Desktop
Course Materials
Speeches/Presentations

A VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY FOR SMALL STATES OF THE COMMONWEALTH (VUSSC) 

The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC)  is a network initiated by and built on the support of Ministers of Education of developing small states of the Commonwealth. It is committed to the collaborative development of open content resources for education, training and capacity building, and the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to broaden access to education.

COL is co-ordinating the development of VUSSC on behalf of Commonwealth Ministers of Education. Thirty-one countries are actively engaged in making VUSSC a reality. VUSSC countries have chosen to focus on creating skills-related post-secondary courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, professional development, disaster management and a range of technical and vocational subjects. These non-proprietary, electronically-held course materials – developed by small states, for small states – can readily be adapted to the specific context of each country. Small states thus become active contributors to global development and leaders in educational reform through the innovative use ICTs.

Collaborative Materials Development

COL is building capacity in online materials development among educators in small states of the Commonwealth by hosting intensive training workshops or "boot camps". Educators from small states learn computer literacy skills and how to collaboratively develop learning materials. Upon return to their home countries, workshop participants continue to collaborate on course materials and share their skills with colleagues. The sixth VUSSC training workshop, scheduled for late 2009 in Samoa, will focus on creating learning materials related to the maritime industry.

VUSSC Website

VUSSC launched its own website in 2009. The site is a gateway to information about VUSSC activities and resources, including online courses in subjects such as disaster management, entrepreneurship, life skills and tourism. Developed by educators from small states of the Commonwealth, the VUSSC courses are freely available to anyone for download, adaptation and use.

Management Committee

A Management Committee is now directing VUSSC's activities, supported by COL's Education Specialist for VUSSC, Mr. John Lesperance. The committee includes representatives from small states in all regions of the
Commonwealth:
• Dr. Emma Kruse Vaai, National University of Samoa (Asia/Pacific), Chairperson
• Mr. Ricaud Auckbur, Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Mauritius (Africa, Mediterranean)
• Dr. Leon Higgs, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, The Bahamas (Caribbean)
• Dr. Mamolete Mohapi, National University of Lesotho (Africa, Mediterranean)
• Ms. Karen Rosemin, Ministry of Science, Technology & Tertiary Education, Trinidad & Tobago (Caribbean)
• Dr. Ali Fawaz Shareef, Centre for Open Learning, Maldives (Asia/Pacific)
• Mr. Kaylash Allgoo, Mauritius Qualifications Authority, (ex-officio as Chairperson of the VUSSC Transnational Qualifications Framework Committee)

Transnational Qualifications Framework

VUSSC is developing a Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF)  – a widely recognised system for accreditation for VUSSC courses that will help establish credibility and facilitate the movement of courses and learners between states. A committee of representatives from six small states of the Commonwealth has developed a TQF Implementation Plan that is being forwarded to Ministers of Education in all VUSSC member states for endorsement.

COL is actively looking for funds to support VUSSC content creation. Development agencies and others that are interested in pursuing this opportunity are encouraged to contact Mr. John Lesperance, COL Education Specialist, VUSSC.
 

VUSSC BUSINESS PLAN (2007 - 2013)

VUSSC Business Plan (.pdf)

VUSSC BACKGROUND 

Commonwealth Education Ministers conceived the idea of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth at their meeting in Halifax, Canada, in 2000. Following the Halifax meeting, COL chaired a technical advisory committee and helped draft a proposal for the VUSSC. A small group of Ministers, meeting in the Seychelles in March 2003, reviewed the proposal and recommended it to the Edinburgh Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) in October 2003. 

VUSSC member countries have met on two occasions in Singapore. At the first meeting in September 2005, a Letter of Intent and a Singapore Statement were agreed. COL was charged with leading the initiative and seeking potential funding sources for activities. 

With support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a second meeting has been hosted, once again in Singapore, at which a plan of action to begin the creation of open educational resources (OERs). 

The Singapore Government was most supportive in making it possible for countries to meet on both occasions. 

The VUSSC members have started their first project to create OERs, using exiting available course content which will be made available via the Internet. While the first project involves the development of learning content in entrepreneurship and tourism, a list of priority areas has been agreed. These will be progressed as funds become available. All countries are contributing their available resources and expertise to this initiative. 

The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) is providing £1 million Sterling to COL over the next four years for the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth. This funding will be used to support the development of learning content, such as the materials on tourism and entrepreneurship developed in the VUSSC start-up workshop in Mauritius in August 2006. It will also support two similar workshops in 2007, which will involve more small states of the Commonwealth, and will focus on professional development of educators and life skills for youth.

PRESENTATIONS TO THE VUSSC MEETINGS 
The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth: What do you want it to become?  : presented at the Senior Officials Meeting on a Transnational Qualifications Framework, VUSSC by Sir John Daniel and Paul West, Commonwealth of Learning.
Background to the Transnational Qualifications Framework  : presented at the Officials Meeting on the Transnational Qualifications Framework, VUSSC in Singapore (25 February 2008) by Paul West and Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.
Opening Ceremony of the Officials Meeting on the Transnational Qualifications Framework, VUSSC  : presented in Singapore (25 February 2007) by Paul West and Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.
Building Bridges between Educators in Small and Island States  : opening remarks at the Fourth International Training and Course Development Workshop of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth in Apia, Samoa (12 November 2007) by Paul West and Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.
Bridging the Last Mile  : remarks at the opening of the 3rd VUSSC Development Boot Camp in Port of Spain, Trinidad (4 June 2007) by Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.
Virtual university, flexible learning: How far have we come?  : opening speech at the 2nd Boot Camp for Educators from Member States of the Commonwealth, held at the National Institute of Education, Singapore (12 March 2007). Presented by Paul West, Commonwealth of Learning.
Update on the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth  : presented at the 16th Conference of Commonwealth Ministers of Education in Cape Town, South Africa (10 December 2006) by Sir John Daniel and Paul West (Commonwealth of Learning).
Blue-Sky thinking for Small States: VUSSC Futures  : presented at the VUSSC Interlocutor Session in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (9-12 November 2006) by Sir John Daniel.
Fact or Fiction? What Can It Do?  : presentation at the opening of the 1st "boot camp" of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth held in Mauritius (7 August 2006) by Paul West & Sir John Daniel, COL.
Breaking New Ground in Open Learning  : presented at the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth: 2nd Strategy Meeting for Interlocutors and Institutional Managers in Singapore (10-13 April 2006) by Sir John Daniel.
Learning for Development: The Role of Distance Education  : presented at the Papua New Guinea Association of Distance Education conference on April 10, 2006 by Sir John Daniel.


PRESENTATIONS to the VUSSC MEETINGS 
PUBLISHED ARTICLES & NEWS 
The VUSSC TQF is launched in Namibia: article written by Franz Gertze, Director, Namibia Qualifications Authority; Member, TQF Management Committee. (October 2010)
The Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth -- The first 9 years: paper to be published in the Observatory On Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) (September 2009) by Paul West, Commonwealth of Learning
BRITISH COMMONWEALTH: Big changes in small states  : article by Nick Holdsworth (10 August 2008) issued in University World News ( universityworldnews.com)
The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth: What is it for? How is it doing? Where is it going?  : article written by Sir John Daniel & Paul West, Commonwealth of Learning. (February 2008)
Educational Technology Magazine  : includes the article "The Virtual University Becomes a Reality" by Paul West, Commonwealth of Learning (Nov-Dec 2007)
The Virtual University Becomes a Reality  : article by Paul West, Commonweath of Learning published in Education Technology (Nov-Dec 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Educational Technology Publications, Inc., used with permission.
COL and VUSSC  : article by Robert Aucoin, Avant Learning
Building up diasporas from scratch : the conditions of emergence of process & collaboration in global knowledge communities  : article by Alain Senteni, Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (VCILT), University of Mauritius