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May 25, 2018

University of Belize Unveils 4-Year Vision Plan

The national university, the University of Belize, this week unveiled big plans for the growth of the institution in the next five years, including introduction of more Bachelor’s-level programmes and the university’s first Masters’ programmes. Other aspects of the plan include infrastructural upgrades to the Belmopan campus—building labs for the engineering and the new biology and chemistry programmes.  A Bachelors degree in sociology, psychology, criminal justice, archaeology is also in the pipeline. The university will also look into getting international academic accreditation.  The end result, News Five’s Aaron Humes reports, is a university that, per its motto, empowers the Jewel.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

U.B. President Clement Sankat wants the four-year Vision 2022 plan to be a “living plan” for the national university’s development, a blueprint for the next generation of students come to learn.

 

Clement Sankat

Clement Sankat, President, University of Belize
“We are about young people, young Belizean students, giving them the opportunity for an education and this memorable experience. That is why, that is in front – the University of Belize must be a student-centered institution. And it is not only about the professional training that they will get; but the broader experience and the friendships that they develop within the University. I have said over and over again, that our own experiences as academics, the best times in our lives were in university days; and our most durable and lasting friends are the ones we made at university. In fact I say, and I am probably part of this experience myself, some of our lasting partners are from our university experience. People come to universities and find more than education; they find joy. And that lives with you forever.”

 

Education Minister Patrick Faber, currently acting as Prime Minister, offered the government’s support. Despite the University’s operating at a deficit, he said he made clear that he would not bankroll the University without a proper development plan, and he is satisfied with this result.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“And we understand that education is expensive, and we understand especially that tertiary education is expensive. And you’ve heard me say I said to them at the time as well that I believe the students ought to be paying more. At the same time, there were students who found me in the supermarkets, in church and wherever else they could find you, and they would tell me horror stories about lecturers who don’t turn up to class at all. Or the kind of grading that they do – just give you a grade to make sure you pass – you know these stories. So if we’re not going to see some marked improvement, then I cannot support an increase in the tuition or the fees even, for the students. And I am telling you I was relieved; I breathed – what’s the past tense of breathe? [Laughter] I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m in the right place, right, a room of academics so that they can help out. [Breathed] a sigh of relief when I heard. But it was not only what I heard on Tuesday that caused me to believe, it was also that everywhere I went over the last six months, they were telling me that President Sankat was out there, touching base with the stakeholders and trying to get them to buy in, and everyone of those persons who he came in contact with who spoke to me said that man is on the right path; he is leading the university in the right path.”

 

The plan, says President Sankat, will only work with buy-in from everyone.

 

Clement Sankat
“Change doesn’t come without some challenges, and I think our chairman addressed that. You’re not going to fly just so easy, you’ve got to worry – you used the word, I didn’t use it. But change is never easy, but we’ve got to be committed to it otherwise we can’t succeed. I say that you cannot achieve your highest possibilities if you are not willing to take some risks. Never. You can bat in your crease and stay the same and the world will go away and pass you. We’ve got to take measured risk to get there. So over the next five years and beyond, the University of Belize will demonstrate to all the capacity to be bold, not afraid to take measured risks, and to live this plan, to continue to live this plan. And because of the success that we will achieve and we are achieving, this will energize us to execute and win even more.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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