Small States represent around two thirds of the membership of the Commonwealth. These small states of the Commonwealth are a blend of land-locked, coastal and island states that span all regions of the world. While there are some significant differences between the member countries, they all experience similar challenges in terms of access to quality higher education. The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is a network initiated by and built on the support of Ministers of Education of developing small states of the Commonwealth. It is committed to the collaborative development of open content resources for education, training and capacity building, and the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to broaden access to education. COL is co-ordinating the development of VUSSC on behalf of Commonwealth Ministers of Education. Thirty-one countries are actively engaged in making VUSSC a reality. VUSSC countries have chosen to focus on creating skills-related post-secondary courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, professional development, disaster management and a range of technical and vocational subjects. These non-proprietary, electronically-held course materials – developed by small states, for small states – can readily be adapted to the specific context of each country. Small states thus become active contributors to global development and leaders in educational reform through the innovative use ICTs. VUSSC has also developed a Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF) – a widely recognised system for accreditation for VUSSC courses that will help establish credibility and facilitate the movement of courses and learners between states. The TQF is a reference system that links national qualifications systems and frameworks in different small states together. In practice, the TQF will function as a translation device making qualifications more readable, which in turn, will help learners and workers that move between countries or change jobs.
The first 8 VUSSC graduates of the Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture for Small States are employed as full-time secondary school teachers in Samoa.
1319 individuals from 31 different countries have participated in additional VUSSC capacity building workshops, courses and formal programmes.
278 participants from 30 different countries have attended VUSSC Bootcamps.