Education minister says new Medical School must seek accreditation

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The move to Antigua & Barbuda of what was to become the twin-island state’s newest medical school has raised several questions now that St Lucian media reported that the institution is not accredited by the relevant regional authority.
On Saturday, MBC Television, a St. Lucian news agency, reported that the Atlantic University School of Medicine (AUSM), which is to relocate to the former City View Hotel on Newgate Street by late August, may have fled that island due to ongoing pressure from the education department there to correct its accreditation issues. However, Minister of Education Michael Browne told OBSERVER media that the AUSM will be required to seek the same accreditation that it lacked in St Lucia.
“Once they come to Antigua they must seek initial accreditation. Every offshore medical school must seek CAM-HP accreditation. It’s a very lengthy process. Even the [American University of Antigua] has conditional accreditation from CAM-HP,” Browne said.
The MBC Television report states that the AUSM had opted not to pursue accreditation for its programmes from the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP) which is an accrediting body for medical, veterinary, and dental schools in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The CAAM-HP was established in 2003 and is recognised by the US as a standard which is comparable to the standards used in medical schools in the US. According to the St Lucian news agency, education officials in that island had been asking the AUSM to get the CAAM-HP accreditation since 2010 so as to allow students to put their degrees to work in the Caribbean.
MBC Television also reported that until recently, the AUSM only had accreditation from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) – a US-based agency which accredits medical programmes outside of the US so that foreign graduates can use their degrees in that country. Without CAAM-HP accreditation, the ASUM catered virtually only to students who wished to take their degrees to the US where the ECFMG accreditation had value.
However, the university reportedly lost ECFMG accreditation recently. Meanwhile, the minister of education said, “The school has been registered in Antigua & Barbuda. We have given them permission to establish a charter here in Antigua.”
It was only last week Thursday that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda was heralding the new institution as a magnet for economic activity in the country. According to the Government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst, who spoke to OBSERVER media over the weekend, the school’s director Paul Leone admitted to the government ministers at last week’s Cabinet meeting that his school had some unresolvable problems in St Lucia. However, Hurst said Leone only did so in very vague terms.
(More in Today’s Daily Observer)

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