Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Sustainability has become the watchword of governments, businesses and research institutes. Sustainability requires collaboration between institutions and disciplines, it cannot be translated into technological terms alone. However, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) do have an important role to play in sustainable development in the 21 st century.

The vulnerability of small island states to environmental and economic shocks requires a multidisciplinary response towards sustainable development. In this perspective, it is evident that our countries, societies, and industry demand future innovators, educators, researchers and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges both today and tomorrow.


Sustainable Island Solutions through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will embody sustainability policies on an academic level, supporting resilience in small island states while also educating a workforce that has the skill and capacity to make these policies a reality.

SISSTEM will provide the (research) skills and disciplines, supported by its research centers and laboratories, within the scope of achieving sustainable development with a focus on sustainable energies, bio-environmental awareness, sustainable technology, and engineering, as well as informatics and data sciences.

For this purpose, the University of Aruba, in collaboration with the KU Leuven and with funding provided by the European Union, has set up SISSTEM: Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Bachelor Program

The University of Aruba offers this innovative bachelor program (BA-STEM) in cooperation with renowned partners such as the KU Leuven (Belgium). It focuses on sustainable development within the context of small islands states. This three year, 180 credit BA-STEM program is designed to prepare the next generation of engineers, analysts, policymakers and researchers for the challenges facing the achievement of sustainable development. It is based on a curriculum that combines a thorough and broad foundation in STEM-theory with applied practice in small island states.

The BA-STEM will attract local, regional and international students that seek to develop a solid basis in STEM-fields with a focus on sustainability.

Target Group

  1. The first target group of the program is the Aruban market. For Aruban/Caribbean VWO-graduates with a background in exact sciences and for alumni of the UA Academic Foundation Year that have followed the STEM elective line admission is unconditional.
  2. The second target group is the regional market. The specific focus of the program is most likely to attract students the Caribbean.
  3. The third target group is the international market: English proficient students from small island states in e.g. the Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, as well as students from countries that work with Overseas Countries and Territories.
  4. The fourth, and most diverse, the target group is the international exchange market. Students from academic partners of the UA’s and the KU-Leuven’s – Caribbean, Erasmus and other international – can participate in the BA-STEM program through exchange.

Entry Requirements

Admission based on degrees that are not listed above will be evaluated on the basis of the Dutch NUFFIC-diploma recognition framework.

VWO/IB/AFY level with exact sciences track:

For graduates of these programs with a background in exact sciences, admission is unconditional.

VWO/IB/AFY level without exact sciences:

For graduates of these programs without a background in exact sciences, remedial summer programs and exams will be organized.

HAVO/CXC level:

For graduates of these programs, admission after completion of AFY with the STEM elective line is unconditional.


Graduate Profiles

In general, the graduates will qualify for BA-level positions in laboratories, industry, the public sector as well as environmental and developmental agencies. Due to the nature of the program, the graduates will have a background that is sufficiently broad to adapt to and develop in a wide variety of medium and high-level positions. The specialization will co-determine the graduates' competitiveness for more specialized positions.

The specific focus of the program on sustainable development in small island states will give the graduates a strong advantage in positions that require specific skills and contextual knowledge for challenges in small island states, in the Caribbean and beyond. The BA-STEM will facilitate access to MA-programs in a wide range of STEM and sustainability studies.

The University of Aruba in collaboration with the KULeuven will offer a multidisciplinary master’s program in sustainable development in small island states that will also grant access to graduates of the BA-STEM program.


The bachelor STEM with a focus on sustainable development in small island states will offer a broad basis for participating candidates that allows the students to develop knowledge and skills in STEM fields as well as to specialize in one specific field of study. The diversification of the program will primarily be rooted in international and regional exchange for lab-work, specialization and for fieldwork in collaboration with the UA’s partners. Student mobility will be key in achieving this diversification in the 180 credits program. The language of the program will be English.

Every year of the program contains a practical component (integrative project 1, integrative project 2 and thesis) that ensures the application of the students’ knowledge.

Program and Credits Outline


Program taught in:
  • English (US)
Last updated September 16, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2020
3 years
- Local: Tuition: Afl. 2,000, Administration fee: Afl. 500; International - non Dutch passport holders with less than 5 years official residence in Aruba: Tuition: Afl. 8,000, Administration fee: Afl. 500.
July 15, 2020
Application process is open from May 15th - July 15th
By locations
By date
Start Date
Sep 2020
End Date
June 2021
Application deadline
July 15, 2020
Application process is open from May 15th - July 15th

Sep 2020

Application deadline
July 15, 2020
Application process is open from May 15th - July 15th
End Date
June 2021