Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC)
Status of initiative: On track
Description/achievement of initiative

The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is a network of small countries committed to the collaborative development of free content resources for use in an educational context. Participating countries focus on the collaborative development of post-secondary, skills-related courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, disaster management, life skills, use of information and communication technologies, and small fisheries management. The materials produced by the VUSSC countries are non-proprietary and are readily adaptable for use in specific country contexts.It is important to note that the VUSSC is not a tertiary institution. Rather, it is a mechanism for small countries to collaboratively develop, adapt and share courses and learning materials. It is also a forum for institutions to build capacity and expertise in online collaboration, eLearning and information and communication technologies (ICT) in general.The broad developmental objective of VUSSC is to increase the human resource capacity that small states of the Commonwealth require to ensure that they are able to participate effectively in global economies and thrive as equal, sustainable and resilient members of the world community.

Implementation methodologies

Ministry officials and institutional representatives from each of the 53 participating countries serve as interlocutors, representing their countries during VUSSC planning meetings. The interlocutors are responsible for nominating participants for the course development and training workshops. They also participate directly in planning meetings and the Transnational Qualification Framework meetings.The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is building capacity in online materials development among educators in small states of the Commonwealth by hosting intensive training workshops or "boot camps". Educators from small states learn computer literacy skills and how to collaboratively develop learning materials. Upon return to their home countries, workshop participants continue to collaborate on course materials and share their skills with colleagues. The sixth VUSSC training workshop, scheduled for late 2009 in Samoa, will focus on creating learning materials related to the maritime industry.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

VUSSC launched its own website in 2009 (see http://www.vussc.org/). The site is a gateway to information about VUSSC activities and resources, including online courses in subjects such as disaster management, entrepreneurship, life skills and tourism. Developed by educators from small states of the Commonwealth, the VUSSC courses are freely available to anyone for download, adaptation and use.VUSSC courses cover a variety of areas including:- Introducing Distance Education- Starting Your Own Business- Disaster Management- Life Skills Development- Linux for IT Managers- Successful Project Management- Tour Guiding- Training Educators to Design and Develop Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Materials- Postgraduate Diploma in Education Leadership- Plus more

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure


All participating countries contribute their available resources and expertise to the VUSSC initiative. The small states (usually defined as having populations of fewer than 1.5 million) make up two-thirds of the 53 countries in membership of the Commonwealth. Each of the countries usually has one national university. The intention of VUSSC is to stimulate an increase in the course offerings in these smaller countries and to create a mechanism to enable the transfer of credits and qualified people across borders of countries. The 53 countries included in VUSSC are: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Darussalum, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles (The Republic of), Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, The Bahamas, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Skills development for staff in use of ICT and OERs
Development of course content for institutions
Resources devoted to implementation
Other, please specify
Donations by private organisations (e.g. Hewlett Foundation)
Staff / Technical expertise
Expertise and knowledge sharing
Staff / Technical expertise
Expertise and knowledge sharing
Financing (in USD)
In-kind contribution
Training facilities depending on host country
Progress reports
Cut off date each year: 1 July
This initiative fulfils the SMART criteria.
Date of completion: ongoing
Operating in countries
Contact information/focal point(s)
Letuimanu\'asina Dr Emma Kruse Va\'ai, e.krusevaai@nus.edu.ws

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