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The Development of a Caribbean Island as Education Hub: The Case of Curacao

Lohmann, Daniel (2015) The Development of a Caribbean Island as Education Hub: The Case of Curacao.

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Abstract:The study was focusing on the economic development of the small Caribbean island Curacao raising the idea of becoming a hub, more specific an education hub. An education hub can consist of slightly diverse hubs: (1) student hub (attracting students), (2) talent hub (attracting skilled workforces) and (3) knowledge hub (attracting international organizations). Countries, which can be seen as strategic pioneers in the idea of creating education hubs, are Singapore and Malaysia. The development of education hubs is linked to the rising student mobility and better cross-border higher education possibilities. Student mobility depends on “push” and “pull” criteria given at home and offered abroad. A “push” is a criteria or event in the home country like missing quality of studies, missing facilities, advice from friends and family or just personal subjective feelings. The “pull” means that a student is attracted by a foreign country due to the country itself, the given facilities, job prospects or the quality of studies. This thesis combined theoretical backgrounds and models with existing practical reports, a survey sent to Curacao experts and interviews conducted with Curacao and Dutch Antilles experts of different sectors with different backgrounds and working fields. This methodical approach aims at creating a detailed view on the island from different perspectives. The empirical analysis has shown that Curacao at this stage does meet many criteria for becoming an education hub. It has a well-developed infrastructure, good proximity to other countries and a high level of cultural diversity including four different languages and a strong tourism and marine sector. However, Curacao also faces various bigger problems concerning the development of an education hub, one of them being the current political situation and its complications preventing a short-term implementation. Due to missing sustainability in the governmental sector, long-term planning is almost impossible but much needed to become a successful hub. In addition, the general attitude of the people on the island towards this idea can be complicated as inhabitants are afraid that foreign students or workers could take their jobs. Furthermore, a labour market protection law is in place and combined with the high level of bureaucracy, it is difficult for foreigners to receive a visa and to work in Curacao. Another problem is that, due to the small size of the country, there are only limited resources available to create an education sector, which would meet all needs of international students. The last issue is concerning education quality and education infrastructure. The universities in Curacao are small and do not provide the latest standard in research facilities. In addition, no overall high level of language is given and there is a missing diversity of international programmes. Thus, the overall conclusion is that Curacao will not be able to become an education hub in the short-term. They first need changes in policies, in attitude and a long-term strategy. Afterwards, they might be able to slowly develop a specialized education hub in the marine and tourism sector, by combining the student hub, the talent hub and the knowledge hub idea.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:83 economics
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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