More than 700 students, faculty, and staff from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) have relocated temporarily to the United Kingdom to continue their program of study after a hurricane damaged the medical school’s home country.
Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on Sint Maarten, the Dutch-French island where AUC’s students complete their first two years of medical school. Determined to allow students to proceed with their studies, AUC has partnered with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to continue the fall semester that was disrupted by the hurricane.
“The entire AUC community has demonstrated tremendous resilience and strength during this difficult time. We received an overwhelming response from students and faculty in favor of continuing forward with the semester,” said Heidi Chumley, MD, Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer for AUC. “Our UCLan colleagues have been extremely supportive and together we are committed to providing our students with a quality learning experience.”
UCLan is hosting the AUC community on the University’s Preston Campus. AUC is utilizing the University’s academic facilities for teaching and study, and students and staff are being housed in numerous residence halls and houses within the Preston City Centre.
“What’s happened to the island of Sint Maarten and the whole of the Caribbean is utterly devastating. We pride ourselves on being a University that is always willing to help our community, be it local, regional, national or international. This situation is our chance to offer help to people whose lives have been turned upside down through a natural disaster,” said UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas.
After Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that swept through the Caribbean, passed through Sint Maarten, AUC and its parent organization, Adtalem Global Education, evacuated AUC community members to the U.S., where planning commenced immediately on continuing the semester in a temporary location.
While managing the logistics of the move to the UK, AUC also secured approval from regulatory authorities in the U.S. and UK to relocate. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the departments of education in the U.S. and UK during this process, and their support in helping our students continue their education,” said Chumley.
AUC is currently assessing the infrastructure damage and operational capacity of Sint Maarten, with the plan ultimately to resume classes on the AUC campus in the future.