Medical school starts multi-million dollar upgrade

POSTED: 05/29/12 1:22 PM
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams speaks at the ground breaking of phase one of the expansion of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). She is flanked by officials of the school, Vromi Minister William Marlin, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius de Weever, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs and Finance Minister Roland Tuitt.

CUPECOY, St. Maarten – Ground was broken on the expansion of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) on Saturday. The start comes nine months after the Devry Institute took over the medical school. Phase one of construction, which is for two buildings, will last 14 months and represents an investment of $32 million and will allow the school to have 1,000 students at a time. It is estimated that students spend roughly $2,200 each every month.
“An investment of $ 32 million dollars at this time is most welcome for St. Maarten and our people, an investment that has an economic spinoff much beyond the construction time of approximately 14 months. I think of increased students, faculty and staff spending with student enrollments up to 1000 individuals. I think of family visits of students, faculty and staff, collaboration with our hospital and medical professionals and collaboration with USM. DeVry and its St. Maarten family of students, faculty and staff can be ambassadors for St. Maarten abroad and especially in medical and educational circles. Students of AUC have consistently enjoyed good passing and placement rates,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said at the ground breaking.
Based on these considerations the government has committed to not levying turnover tax (TOT) on tuition and to pursuing e-zone legislation and guidelines for St. Maarten. Next to the expansion the school has committed to pay a “substantive” amount of the investment in wages, maximize the use of local labor, contractors and material, providing community support through scholarships, community programs and employment of qualifying nationals, expanding its scholarship programs in collaboration with DeVry University and Keller Graduate School of Management and granting access to AUC’s healthcare infrastructure. These agreements were hammered out by staffers of the ministries of finance, economic affairs and Vromi, the prime minister’s cabinet and representatives of the university – specifically Bill Hughson and his staff.
Wescot-Williams has already been informed that the expansion is the forerunner to more cooperation that will focus on making St. Maarten an educational hub and center for knowledge.

At the moment AUC works with the University of St. Martin to offer locals a scholarship of $30,000 so they can become physicians. The school also works closely with the St. Maarten Medical Center to provide healthcare and logistical support. The school’s students also regularly volunteer with the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation during the latter’s free rapid HIV testing days.

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