September 15, 2020
For Immediate Release
University of Belize and the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union Sign Agreement
The Management of the University of Belize and the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union (UBFSU) agreed on Friday, 11th September, 2020 to a number of measures to address the University’s financial shortfall in these challenging times. The agreement that was signed on Friday had the blessings of the Board of Trustees of the University of Belize.
The discussions, engagements and negotiations occurred over a period of three months including a meeting with the Ministry of Labour, chaired by the Hon. Minister of Labour. The agreement signed covers several areas that affect both the University and its employees including a tiered cut in salaries from 22% to 5%, an increment freeze for the financial year, a Voluntary Separation Program, restructuring of certain areas of the University’s operations, especially those that have been closed through the pandemic or significantly contracted because of our mainly online teaching and reduced student numbers this academic year. Other subsidiary areas agreed to included for example, the ability to work from home with a technology grant and an interest-free loan to eligible employees for the procurement of internet access and a computer/laptop respectively to facilitate this.
The University and the UBFSU agreed that in six months’ time the state of the University’s finances will be reviewed with a view to examining the feasibility of returning salaries to or near to their previous levels. The parties also agreed to continue to communicate and to work collaboratively to ensure that the University of Belize and all of its constituents can weather this difficult period brought about by the pandemic and the cut in the University’s subvention and income from students. The parties also thank the Ministry of Labour for facilitating our initial discussion and the University’s employees for their understanding of our situation.
View/Download the Press Release HERE
August 10, 2020
For Immediate Release
UB’s Registration Commenced Today for Classes to Begin on 17th August, 2020
The University of Belize takes this opportunity to prevent any confusion in the minds of its students, and the wider university community, that may be caused by unfortunate comments with respect to a delay in the normal opening of classes of the University this semester. Such comments are particularly harmful to students and their sponsors as well as the University at a time when the University is facing a financial crisis.
The University wishes to remind all its stakeholders that the original timeline for the opening of the semester remains unchanged and the Academic Calendar of the University is approved by the Board of Trustees. The schedule for the opening of classes continues to roll out as has been planned and shared with the public and students since the middle of the summer. Last week, new students entering the University experienced the first ever virtual university orientation. They also met their academic advisors and received academic advising in preparation for registration. Registration for classes started this morning (2,020 students registered at this time) and continues until Friday of this week, during which time all new and returning students are expected to select their courses and pay the appropriate tuition and fees. Next week Monday, the 17 of August, classes will commence online as has been announced, except for some laboratory courses that require face to face engagement, for which students will be so informed by their respective Faculty.
The University has alerted all its stakeholders on the requirements for health and safety, social distancing, etc. and it will continue to observe these best practices while being ready to treat with any unfolding circumstances which this COVID pandemic still threatens. The University assures its community and the public it serves, that it will continue to work closely with its internal constituents, the Faculty and Staff, for meeting the expectations of our students and parents to deliver tertiary education as Belize’s flagship national institution.
View/download the press release here
A Message from Chairman of the Board of Trustees at UB:
As we stand in this moment, the joy of birth and the memories of the years of growth and struggle fill us with pride and a true sense of accomplishment. The University of Belize, Belize’s national flagship of higher learning, stands tall with its magnificent record of delivering quality multi-disciplinary educational programs designed to empower this nation.
As Chairman of the Board of Trustees of this great national institution I am proud to salute leadership, faculty and staff on this the occasion of UB’s 20th Anniversary. The road to this happy moment has not been without its bumps and bogs. In fact, as we celebrate we are mindful of the heavy cloud of uncertainty enveloping the University, the nation and indeed, the World as we all struggle to chart a manageable course in spite of the harsh setbacks brought on by the worse global pandemic the World has seen in a hundred years. African wisdom dictates that “Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors”. We are, therefore, strengthened in the belief that the University of Belize has been fortified by rough waters in the past and will overcome all turbulence it faces today and in the future. “However long the night. The dawn will break”.
This University celebrates the thousands of proud graduates who have contributed to Belize’s national well-being in the Public Service, in Private Enterprise, as educators, engineers, scientists, attorneys, doctors, nurses, agriculturists; in politics, religion, business. Our graduates have made us proud within the region and across the diaspora, in local as well as in world-class institutions.
In celebration we are mindful of our sponsors and stakeholders and extend a hearty handshake of gratitude to the Government of Belize, to the parents and students who have steadfastly supported us, to benefactors all (small and large) and to the dedicated faculty and staff who have stood firmly with us in creating this fountain of teaching and learning – The University of Belize!
Happy 20th Birthday UB! Together we will move mountains tomorrow by continuing to lift stones today.
By GA Harrison Pilgrim, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, UB
A Message from the Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports & Culture:
I take great pleasure in extending warm congratulations to the University of Belize on the twentieth anniversary of the University’s founding, this first day of August 2020.
There is great significance of this August 1st celebration. This anniversary date, is historical. On this day, we also celebrate the anniversary of our beloved capital, Belmopan, home of the University of Belize’s main campus. We also mark in Belize and the Caribbean, Emancipation Day, the end of slavery. This alignment of celebrations is testament to our resolve as a people, for freedom of person and thought and of our efforts at nation building. The University of Belize plays a crucial role in all these. Congratulations to the management, faculty, staff and students of UB. Happy 20th anniversary.
By Deborah Domingo, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports & Culture
A Message from the President of the Student Government Association 2019-20:
I am beyond grateful for having been selected by my peers to represent the university’s student body in its entirety as a member on the Board of Trustees for the past year. It has also brought me much pleasure to accept your invitation in sharing celebratory words to commemorate the 20th anniversary of this national institution. The University of Belize is home to many students all over the country which fosters learning in an enabling environment. There are a number of
available opportunities that allows each individual to stimulate some form of developmental growth both in and outside of the classroom. My two-year experience has been one filled with unimaginable milestones being crossed in the face of undeniable adversities. In a similar light, the university too has had its achievements as breakthroughs from previous hardships.
The infamous “Transformational Plan” took off in 2017 with a full head of steam from the very day of its introduction and is continuing its course. Guided by the fours R’s of Reach, Relevance, Responsiveness and Responsibility, the university is well aware of necessary areas for improvements in its plan and steers in a direction of excellence. I am proud to say that I’ve been a witness to the contract signing for the medical building, that I hope proves to evolve into a
program sought after by many students regionally and internationally. Time and time again, we are reminded of how much the students are at the core of the university’s interest and that their
power to push forward the future plans is critical. As students, we are indeed the leaders of tomorrow whom will lay foundations for better leaders in the subsequent years to come. After 20 consecutive years of standing tall on Belizean soil, the University of Belize has sowed good seeds and had fruitful harvests as their reward. I believe that without a doubt there will be no setbacks so great that the students, faculty and administrating bodies of this institution are unable to overcome. We are all forever equipped with our own unique set of tools to build UB together.
By Jalen Good, President (2019-2020), Association of Student Governments, University of Belize
July 30, 2020
For Immediate Release
UB Graduates 600 Students this Semester from all Parts of Belize
The University of Belize is very pleased to announce that 600 students from our Semester II Cohort have been approved for graduation by the Board of Trustees of UB at their meeting on 29th July, 2020.
The Board expressed its pleasure, that despite the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and the near physical lock down of the University, that the University responded though online teaching and learning modality to ensure that this large number of students met their requirements as hoped for. The Board congratulated the students, faculty, staff and administrators of UB for their support of these students through their creative work in difficult times. Also noteworthy is that for the very first time, the University has produced more graduates at the Bachelors level (281) compared to graduates at the Associates level (241). This is a major directional change as the University advances on its Transformation Plan. Our graduates have come from all parts of Belize; 341 from our Belmopan Campus, 167 from our Belize City Campus, 53 from our Punta Gorda Campus, 26 from our Central Farm Campus and 12 from our outreach location in Corozal Town. Again, like previous
ly years, the vast majority of graduates are females and 18% of our graduates completed their requirements with honors. Our highest overall achievers were:
HUNG, ANDRES Associates in Biology and Chemistry
WU, CHEN-YI Bachelors in Pharmacy
CHOC, ALMIRA DELICIA Bachelors in Medical Laboratory Science
The University is actively planning for its graduation ceremonies in Punta Gorda and in Belize City scheduled for the month of October 2020 and our graduates and their parents would be informed as soon as our arrangements have been confirmed in this challenging time of maintaining hygiene etiquette. The Board of Trustees, the Management, Faculty and Staff of the University extend its sincere congratulations to our successful graduating students.
View/Download the Press Release HERE
24th July, 2020
My Dear Students (new and returning),
Preparation for the Start of the New Semester
I do hope you are having a restful vacation and a well-deserved break away from the University of Belize or from your previous School/College. We are preparing once more to engage you in our teaching and learning for semester one of the new academic year 2020-21 which begins on 1st August, 2020. Let me state that 1st August is a very special one for the University of Belize, as this institution will be celebrating 20 years of existence on that day. So a happy 20th anniversary to the University of Belize and we all deserve a round of applause for the contributions this young university has made in building high level human capacity for Belize.
We are entering this new year in the midst of the global pandemic COVID-19 and all the negative impacts it has brought to us as individuals and our institution. We have to once more be resolved to face the challenges of this pandemic frontally for the benefit of you, our students, and your desire for a good university education. Human development, notwithstanding the challenging times we face must be seen as a priority and a pathway to the socioeconomic development of Belize. Thus, we cannot falter.
With a raging pandemic still in place, and in the globalized world in which we live, the health and safety precautions that have been recommended must be adhered to. This is especially difficult in universities that are places of socialization both within and outside of the classrooms and this is what makes it especially challenging for all of us. We also understand the financial impacts of this pandemic on our students and their parents/sponsors. In this environment, and after the recent deliberations of the Academic Council of UB and in preparation for the new semester, the following measures will be put in place:
- The new normal for our teaching will once more be through online education using the Moodle platform and or the Google Classroom.
- For those courses where there is a practical component, for example in the laboratories, face-to-face teaching will occur with the appropriate health and safety precautions. Some blended teaching and learning will therefore occur.
- All (students/staff/faculty) entering the campuses must wear a mask, comply with the minimum social distance standard of 3 to 6 feet and maintain hygiene etiquette.
- All must enter our campuses and buildings at designated entry points.
- All entering the campuses will be subjected to temperature checks by our Campus Safety Officers.
- Wash stations will be provided at strategic positions on our campuses.
- The Wi-Fi capabilities will be strengthened across our campuses so that students can have access to the internet in an open space. Students without access to Wi-Fi and/or computers at home will have access to our campuses and the controlled use of our computer labs.
- All tests and exams will be conducted on the Moodle platform to increase security and minimize errors in data management.
- A new Online Testing Policy will be launched for our Instructors to provide clarity about online instruction and evaluation.
- Our Office of Distance Learning (ODL) will continue to support our Faculty and Students with online instructional training and learning respectively.
- Students should familiarize themselves with the Policies in the Student Handbook that is on our Website.
- Registration for new and returning students will be from 10th to 14th August, 2020 under the Office of the Registrar, while academic advising will be conducted by the relevant, assigned Faculty.
- Orientation for new students will be done online over the period 3rd to 4th August, 2020 and I expect you will be hearing from our Dean of Students.
- Classes will formally begin on 17th August, 2020 either online or in a blended format and I expect you will hear more from the Dean of your Faculty and/or the Chair of the Department.
- Financial responsibility of students:
- Students enrolled prior to 2019/2020 will pay the same tuition they paid in 2019.
- Students enrolled in 2019/2020 and new students will pay $37.00 per credit tuition hour (Associates) and $100.00 per credit tuition hour (Bachelors).
- Belizean students will have to pay a minimum of 25% of tuition and fees when registering and thereafter 25% at the end of end of each month ending in November 2020.
- No returning student will be allowed to register while having outstanding balances.
- Students can apply to the Development Finance Corporation for a new Special-Low-Interest-Low-Collateral loan for UB students – please see our website.
Further information on these matters may be obtained from the following offices:
- ODL Dr. Frieda Palma
- Student Affairs Dr. Martin Cuellar
- Registration Services Mrs. Rose Pineda
- Admission/Acceptance Mrs. Camilla Barker
- Finance Mr. Orlando Palma
- Health and Safety Matters Mr. John Salam/Mr. Francis Burns
Our Offices at the University are there to facilitate your transition into University life and especially in this new normal. That while in this new normal we may not be seeing you on campus on a regular basis, our Office of Student Affairs will continue to engage you online and with controlled events on our campuses. I expect you will be hearing from many of our University Leaders in the very near future as we approach the period of registration.
We have to manage this pandemic together and I appreciate the sacrifices that all will be making, but this is for your well-being as a University education is an investment for your future and Belize’s advancement. We hope and pray that this pandemic will pass soon so that our lives can return to some state of where we were before. In this new environment, we all have to be innovative and creative and find new ways of doing things that we normally took for granted. The use of technology is facilitating us in these directions. I look forward to welcoming you to the University of Belize very soon and my best wishes for your success and advancement.
“We will not be going back to the “old normal”. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives. Part of adjusting to the “new normal” is finding ways to live our lives safely. It can be done, but how to do it will depend on where you live and your circumstances. It’s all about making good choices. We are asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions – because they are. It may not be your life, but your choices could be the difference between life and death for someone you love, or for a complete stranger.” (World Health Organization)
Prof. Emeritus Clement Sankat, Ph.D.
Copied to: Administrators, Deans, Chairs, Faculty, Staff
Download the President’s Message HERE
15th July, 2020
For Immediate Release
A Statement by the University of Belize on Measures to be Implemented In 2020-21 so as to Mitigate Our Losses In Revenue – To Be Approved By The Board Of Trustees
The President of the University of Belize addressed all of his constituents on 13th July, 2020 on the matter of the cut in GOB’s subvention, projected loss of tuition and fee income and their negative impacts on the University.
He emphasized that the matter of funding and financing of the University of Belize were always the “big elephant in the room”. He noted that with COVID-19 – the University of Belize has been brought under significant financial pressure. We have to treat with the financial cuts envisaged, that is, a reduction in subvention of $2.66 million per annum, projected loss in student numbers of 25% and its financial impact of $3.5 million, as well as the provision which we have made to freeze tuition increases and reduce fees by 25% so as to support our students and their parents and this is estimated to cost $1 million in the financial year. We are therefore projecting at this time, a loss of $7.16 million for the year 2020-21. But the data in front of us is even more stark with what we are seeing today in terms of the new academic year 2020-21 and student projections. And so while we are anticipating a 33% loss in our cash inflows, the prospects with the deflated state of the economy around us, are even dimmer. All our Caribbean universities are facing this same financial dilemma.
The President has noted that on a monthly basis we are paying $1.3 million to support our payroll for our 405 employees. While our government subvention has been reduced from normally $916,667 per month to $650,000 per month starting in June 2020, that the University has paid all salaries and benefits for the months of March, April, May, June and July, despite our cash flows indicating that the University is hemorrhaging. In responding to this crisis, the President had to consider two major philosophical options – (i) All faculty, staff and administrators sharing proportionately in this financial burden (ii) Dislocating a good number of our employees and they carry the burden near singularly. The President chose the first option as he stood by his statement, “livelihoods matter”. The measures put before the Board of Trustees on 14th July, 2020 are as follows:
- A salary reduction across the board and for ALL employees with a tiered reduction beginning at 25% at the top most band and reducing to 5% at the lowest band. The bands are as follows:
This salary reduction becomes effective 1st August, 2020 and over the period of the financial year 2020-21.
- Increments across the board for all employees will be frozen for the 2020-21 financial year, with the proviso that the quantum of the forgone annual salary increment for those who are or will be eligible will be included in the calculation for pensionable benefits, either at retirement or at the time of resignation/early departure from the University.
- That a Voluntary Separation Program will be introduced with immediate effect.
- That in the next 6 months, the following offices will be reorganized to bring much greater efficiency to our core functions and further reductions where they can be realized.
- The divisions of Security, Physical Plant, UB Central Farm, Calabash Caye, the ERI, Records, the Office of Student Affairs, Library, the Offices of HR and Finance, the Vice President’s Office and the President’s Office, the ODL and ICT Offices, the Regional Language Center. There could be consolidation in some of these Offices. This rationalization will take effect after consultation with the relevant Heads and approval by the Board of Trustees.
- On the academic side, it is similarly expected that there will be some rationalization of the academic support that we currently have.
- It is expected that all faculty will teach the equivalent of 5 courses as their normal load for the semester.
- That the total cost of adjunct contracts will be reduced by 75%.
- That all non-PE expenses will be reduced by 25% and hence conservation becomes paramount.
- That where there are qualified and trained administrators available in the UB system, they will be asked to teach at least one course per semester as a matter of providing voluntary service to the University, with equivalent time-off as approved.
- Where approved by the Senior Management of the University, faculty and staff may still be able to work some time from home using technology and as needed or recommended.
- For approved full-time faculty and senior administrative staff, an allowance of $500.00 per year will be provided as a technology grant so as to support their access to internet, etc.
- Our budget for 2020-2021, will make provisions for approved full-time Faculty and Administrators to obtain an interest free loan, repayable over 3 years to purchase a laptop – UB’s Laptop Purchase Program.
The President concluded his presentation by noting that the “UB ship is leaking” and we can let it take in the water and let it go down or we can steadily bail it out to stay afloat for a while, or we can plug the leak so it can sail once more to safe shores. The President appealed to all to make the personal sacrifice and for us to work together to plug this leakage for the benefit of our University and Belizean students. He noted we can sail with our crew or we can sail with a much reduced crew. His hope was that we can do the former as livelihoods matter to him and that he has done his best through deliberate consultation and analysis to ensure that the financial burden is shared by all and in a proportional manner, while recognizing livelihoods matter. These recommendations are before the Board of Trustees of the University of Belize for consideration and approval. The Chairman of the Board, Mr. G.A. Harrison Pilgrim remarked “we have to come together to make the sacrifices that are required to save our University as the University is hemorrhaging”.
To view/download the Press Release document please click here
July 6, 2020
For Immediate Release
The University’s Response to Comments Relating to Tuition for 20/21 – Any Approved Increases Stopped and Fees Will Be Reduced by 25% so as to Support Our Students and Parents
The Board of Trustees of the University of Belize and its Administration are aware that a student or group of students have been circulating an erroneous post on Facebook suggesting that the University plans to increase tuition and fees for all students in August 2020. The Board of Trustees and the Administration take this opportunity to respond to this inaccurate and potentially damaging expression of concern and notify all its students of the truth related to the university’s plans to protect them from the full impact of the COVID19 pandemic.
Since March 20, 2020 when the University unexpectedly had to close its campuses to protect its students, staff and faculty from the possible impacts of the spreading pandemic, the University’s leadership has been focused on ensuring that our teaching and learning has been preserved for the benefit of our students. We thank our faculty, staff and students, that with all the sacrifices made through innovation and creativity we are coming to the end of the academic year. I thank them all for their sacrifices. The University’s leadership, recognizing what was staring us in the face has been researching, analyzing and planning to mitigate the anticipated financial impact of COVID19 on the dwindling global and national economies. Our planning had to be intensified with the announcement by the Government of Belize (GOB) in May 2020 that the subventions to statutory organizations like the UB was going to be severely cut. We can confirm that our subvention has been reduced by 25%. The University’s leadership has studied all of its income streams and the trends of student payments of their tuition and fees over the past three years against the backdrop of the shrinking Belizean economy and the details of loss of income as those figures emerged. The President met with and informed all members of the University community in an historic online meeting – one that included the three student government presidents, the student representative on the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff – of the full financial impact of the shrunken Belizean economy and on the University of Belize. In this meeting all student leaders were informed of the fact that the University is facing a devastating cut in both its income streams with a total shortfall of 7.16 million dollars that included a provision for reduced income from student tuition and fees. The President made it clear that he would consult all and then prepare a proposal to take to the Board of Trustees for their approval. He stressed that the proposal must ensure the sustainability of the University post COVID19. At that early stage of development of a response, the President shared his intention to minimize the impact on students’ financial obligations to the University. He expressed his intent to put the pre-approved tuition increase for 2021 on hold and revert tuition to the 2019 rate while simultaneously cutting student fees by 25%. He also engaged the Development Finance Cooperation (DFC) to seek more attractive student loans for students who have the smallest incomes at this time. Incoming students have been offered details of the new Special Education Loans at DFC and information on the loans are being posted on the University’s Facebook page and website. In a second meeting held with key University leaders and the student government presidents, the President entertained a suggestion by one of the Student Government Presidents to reduce the amount of tuition and fees that students must pay at the start of next semester during registration. The President indicated that he is recommending to the Department of Finance that this amount be reduced from 40% to 25%.
Students, these are the facts that clarify that there will be no tuition or fee increase for students in August 2020 and there was never any such plan post COVID19. These facts are also shared to inform all students that the University continues to meet with all of its constituents to share information and to seek their guidance on how we treat with the financial challenges we currently face. The President would like all students to realize that they, and our teaching and learning functions remain the center of the University and as such they are at the core of all our thinking to guide the University of Belize out of this current financial challenge. Kindly join the holistic efforts of the University to be responsive, responsible, equitable and innovative in addressing the challenges we face as an institution. Any suggestions or recommendations, please engage the Administration directly via our email established for this purpose: email@example.com. Let’s work together to make UB stronger.
To view/download this document: https://bit.ly/PR-UBResponsetoTuition2020-21
TO: All Faculty and Staff
FROM: The President
DATE: 11th June, 2020
SUBJECT: Very Challenging Revenue Loss at the University of Belize as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic – Your thoughts on how we go forward for Academic Year 2020-21
The University of Belize has recently been informed that its Government (GOB) subvention has been reduced from $11 million to $8.34 million. This represents a cut in the subvention of 24.2%. This news comes in the wake of a Memo from the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance dated 19th May, 2020 where he noted “As we continue to witness the devastating effect on our revenue collections, we are faced with the need to further curtail recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2020-21.” The University has therefore been mandated to share in this national budgetary crisis and therefore, we must respond so as to be able to manage and operationalize our University within this challenging time as soon as possible and when approved by the Board.
Coupled with this loss in government subvention, the University of Belize is preparing for a 25% loss in income from student tuition and fees as a result of firstly, reduced enrolment for academic year 2020-21. We are all aware of the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the loss of jobs and income in households and hence the inability of some potentially new and returning students to fund their education at the University. In the same circumstances, the ability of donors to fund scholarships at the same level of the pre-COVID period is now very doubtful. We are anticipating a loss of income from this source at $3.5 million for 2020-21.
The University is very cognizant of the cost of education to our student population and in particular at this time. It is therefore proposed that the stepwise tuition increase for the academic year 2020-21 as was approved by the Board nearly two years ago, will be held in abeyance.
Further, we are proposing to also reduce student fees by 25%. We are hoping that in anticipation of these measures, that some of our students may find the ways and means to continue their studies at UB. Loss of income from these actions is of the order of $1 million or 10% of our student tuition and fee income for the year.
In summary therefore, UB is preparing for a significant loss in income of $7.16 million or 27.3% of our 2019-20 recurrent budget – one where we proposed to spend $20.7 million on Personal Emoluments and $5.5 million on other costs, for a total of $26.2 million.
Let me conclude by saying that what I am presenting is what is in front of us today. The world, the Caribbean, including Belize, all of us are faced with difficult economic circumstances. There is contraction of economies across the board and many businesses and institutions are struggling to survive. It may even get worse as the months go by before it gets any better. There is no choice at the University of Belize, as with other universities across the globe including the Caribbean, but to reduce our expenditure very significantly. I also want to bring to your attention that the University of Belize will enter into a “new normal” when we open our doors in August 2020. We cannot assume that we can continue to do things the same way.
Under these circumstances, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter of how we can close this financial gap by completing the attached questionnaire, as this will inform the direction that must be approved by our Board of Trustees. We are all in this together.
I look forward to receiving your response by 8:00 am on Monday, 15th June, 2020 which will be treated in the strictest confidence.
To view or download the official document: https://bit.ly/COVID-19RevenueLossMemo