ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The American University of Antigua (AUA) is moving ahead with major expansion plans that are expected to provide a US $18 million boost to the local economy.
The development comes as the locally-based university was recognised by the Medical Board of California thus allowing it to market itself to a greater number of potential students.
Senior Vice President of Enrolment Management and Chief Operating Officer at AUA Dick Woodward said the accreditation allows the school to expand from its current 1,000-member student body.
“It allows us to appeal to more medical students throughout the United States, not just in the state of California, and it allows for a tremendous economic stimulus to the people of Antigua & Barbuda (through the expansion),” Woodward said.
“When you take this to dollars brought into the country of Antigua, as you look at the services that these students are going to need, it’s somewhere in the tune of US $18 million,” he said.
Woodward added he expects that the associated expansion of the school to cater for the influx of students will benefit the local economy “anywhere from tourism to food services, to car rentals, to entertainment, to restaurants, it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to bring in more students and ultimately stimulate the economy here in Antigua.”
Chief Administrative Officer Corey Greenberg said a number of construction projects will be needed and one has already started to provide 12 more classrooms, which will be built over the next 12 weeks.
“We anticipate having a minimum of 200 construction-related jobs being started in Antigua. Additionally, there will be direct employment that will be a result of that with additional staff, whether it be maintenance, security, cleaning staff or local faculty,” Greenberg said.
AUA is already accredited by the state of New York but Woodward said the recognition by California would permit “current students to do clinical rotations in the state of California. It allows our graduates to do their residency in the state of California and ultimately allows our students for licensure.
“What this actually means is probably 100 new students coming to this campus directly from the state of California and from other states … In February alone, probably another 125, next August 150, the February after that another 200,” Woodward said.
The Antigua-based university achieved the recognition following a visit by the California Medical Board. It was helped by a recent US $1.2 million investment in state-of-the-art clinical simulation labs and skills labs.
Woodward said the accreditation by California now places the school in the top bracket of Caribbean medical schools.
“There are 40 medical schools in the Caribbean area … there are only five that have California approval. It’s a very detailed process in order to get it, also very important that they do a visit to the school,” Woodward said.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)