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Senate passes amendments to Bermuda College Act

The Bermuda College

Amendments to the Bermuda College Act have been passed in the Senate which include the provision for the college to borrow funds from government.

As a result of the amendment the Bermuda College Building Reserve Fund Act 1987 has been repealed.

Independent Senator James Jardine said during the Senate session yesterday morning: “I do shudder when I see borrowing extended to some of our Quangos” adding that adequate controls need to be put in place to ensure that any funds applied for must be appropriate and that the funds are properly used.

He said he took comfort in the fact that both the Ministers of Education and Finance would have to approve any applications.

It was mentioned that there were currently no plans for any capital developments or borrowing asks from the College and if and when there were there would be full transparency, particularly in light of the PATI freedom of information legislation due to come into force in April next year.

Another amendment was made to provide for college tuition fees not to be charged in respect of students who attend aided or maintained school which was supported by all sides of the Chamber. Progressive Labour Party Senator Diallo Rabain welcomed the tuition waivers as “a positive note.”

Through the Bermuda College Amendment Act, the academic roles of the college Board have been transferred to a formally established Academic Council which is responsible for the development of academic policies and procedures related to curriculum programme and instruction. Although the Council currently plays a significant role, there is no reference to it in the principal act.

New England Association of Schools is due to visit the college in March for its accreditation review and many of the amendments aim to prepare for this process. The changes to the act referred to support of the college’s reaccreditation and bringing the college in line with best practices. Several other amendments were made including the support of the Board of Governors and president of the college in continuing effective governance and operation of the college.

The amendment means that ex officio members of the Board now comprise a representative from the Bermuda College Faculty Association; the Student Government Council; and the Bermuda College Honorary Fellows; along with the chairman of the National Training Board and the permanent secretary for education who replaced the chief education officer. The president has also been relieved of secretarial duties during board meetings.

Also, a provision was made for by-laws, that make provisions for how Board and committee meetings are run, to be made without being subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.