by Photo courtesy of Southwestern College

Southwestern College signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) this month with the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California’s (UABC) Tijuana campus to expand academic opportunities for students in the binational region.

Southwestern College officials signed the MOU on June 13, marking the start of a partnership between both institutions. Through this partnership, cohorts of low-income UABC students will be allowed to attend SWC and pay California in-state tuition rates. 

Superintendent/President Dr. Mark Sanchez said the partnership is “critically important” to contribute to and further develop the San Diego-Tijuana region. Sanchez expressed the increased need of specialized skills in the competitive fields of engineering, biotechnology, manufacturing, and cybersecurity, among others. 

“I believe this is the beginning of an amazing collaboration that will be a benefit to our binational communities,” Sanchez said. “This is significant in that our binational region represents a $250 billion dollar economy. Future jobs will require specialized skills usually obtained through a degree, certificate, or credential. Therefore, for us to work together to educate our communities is critically important.”

Vice president of UABC Tijuana, Maestra Edith Montiel Ayala said this would allow the creation of new opportunities for students in both regions. 

“The signing of this agreement will formalize the previous work between both institutions and will give guidelines for the development of new projects. This binational link and the opportunity we have now will always be for the benefit of our students, which is why I am pleased that the authorities of Southwestern College and all the attendees accompany us in this signing as witnesses,” Ayala said. 

Southwestern’s main campus in Chula Vista has been around since 1961, but the community college has expanded to National City, Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, and Coronado. According to Dr. Joel Pilco, director of binational and international programs, this partnership is “a step forward to cultivating closer regions with our neighboring institutions along the border region.” 

“Southwestern College will work to create programs that link colleges and universities from both sides of the border, share knowledge, and build a workforce ready to meet the future’s demand,” Pilco said. 

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