Puerto Rico's Polytechnic University opening Miami campus
By Paola Iuspa
A 36-year-old Puerto Rican engineering, architecture and business university is opening a Miami campus to offer programs in English and Spanish.
San Juan's Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico plans to open its first branch campus, the Polytechnic University of the Americas, by June.
An approved information technology academy, the Miami campus will first provide Microsoft certification programs, said Jose Vazquez, university vice president for business and finance. By fall, the school will offer master's programs in engineering management and business administration. The college also will offer bachelor's degrees in computer science, computer engineering and business administration, said Mr. Vazquez.
Bud Park, vice chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce education committee, said the area has a need for educational institutions. About 18% of Miami-Dade residents have bachelor's degrees, he said, while the US average is 25%.
"We have a long way to go before catching up with the rest of the country," he said. "If we want to build intellectual capital in the region, we need to embrace and welcome accredited higher-education institutions."
"There is a great need in Miami to offer educational choices," said Linda Eads, a local consultant hired by the school to help organize the new campus. "We want to serve the needs of working professionals and full-time employed students."
Classes will be held at 8180 NW 36th St. in the Doral area at a cost of $315 per undergraduate credit and $395 per graduate credit, Ms. Eads said. They can enroll up to 700 students per semester, she said, and conduct six classes at a time.
School officials want to purchase a 3-acre parcel at 12th street and Milam Dairy Road for a permanent site.
The university is accredited by the US Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools, she said. The accreditation, awarded to the main campus, makes the Miami branch eligible for federal funds for financial aid and scholarships, Mr. Vazquez said.
Ms. Eads said her client has credit-transfer agreements with community colleges in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
"We know it is going to take time for us to develop our reputation," Mr. Vazquez said. "But we have been very successful in Puerto Rico. We have the know-how of what needs to be done to have an excellent curriculum."
The San Juan campus last fall enrolled 5,400 and boasts graduates working at NASA.
J. Antonio Villamil, CEO of Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables, conducted a feasibility study for the school.
"We are exporting education," he said. "Little by little Miami is becoming a knowledge-based exporter. In Latin America there is an interest in obtaining education, training and legal services in South Florida."
Miami-Dade is home to three colleges with main campuses abroad, said Charles Davis, of the Florida Department of Education's Commission for Independent Education, which licenses colleges and universities. Miami is home to Grenada-based Saint George's University School of Medicine and Puerto Rico-based Carlos Albizu University. The Netherlands Antilles' American University of the Caribbean has a site in Coral Gables.
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