With a global focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, the small states of the Commonwealth have prioritised the maximising of technological opportunities for economic development.
Formally launched in 2000 and with global momentum building after 2005, the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is a network of small states that work together to improve the quality of education using collaboration to create content and expanding knowledge and training.
VUSSC helps small states build the capacity of their educational institutions to facilitate the offering of post-secondary programmes and support the creation of related accreditation mechanisms.
The VUSSC network represents 30 small states of the Commonwealth dedicated to expanding access to tertiary education. In recent years, VUSSC has connected institutions through online technologies to promote eLearning and the sharing of educational resources using collaborative and multi-institutional frameworks.
VUSSC countries have specifically chosen to focus on the development of post-secondary, skills-related courses and programmes in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, use of information and communications technologies, life skills, disaster management, fisheries, construction management, transportation and logistics, agriculture and business and entrepreneurship. Recently, VUSSC has integrated emerging issues into courses and programmes, such as the concept of the blue economy and the challenges associated with climate change and sustainable development.
VUSSC course materials are non-proprietary and readily adaptable to the specific context of each country. They can be used in the offering of credit-bearing qualifications as well as strengthening educational capacity and access in member countries.
Another component of the VUSSC initiative has been the development of a VUSSC Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF). The impetus for the VUSSC TQF was based on the notion that in order for international online courses to play a significant role in the expansion of education, they must be set within a global framework of quality assurance and qualification recognition that inspires confidence. The VUSSC TQF helps to provide this “seal of quality.”
The first 8 VUSSC graduates of the Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture for Small States are employed as full-time secondary school teachers in Samoa.
1319 individuals from 31 different countries have participated in additional VUSSC capacity building workshops, courses and formal programmes.
278 participants from 30 different countries have attended VUSSC Bootcamps.