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|Create Date||January 18, 2019|
Happy New Year from the University of Belize (UB)!
As the President of Belize’s national university, I take great pleasure in extending my sincere best wishes to all Belizeans for 2019. I pray that your new year will be filled with incredible promise and opportunities.
The 2017-2018 academic year was a defining year for UB. We launched our five (5) year strategic plan, A Transformational Leap: Vision 2022, which envisions that by 2022, the University of Belize will be Belize’s premiere degree-granting university, with research of national and regional impact and a distinctive and student-focused teaching profile. For this initial phase of transformation, we began developing and approving our academic plans to expand our Bachelor and Masters programs, began incorporating global benchmarks into our teaching and learning activities and launched our Accreditation drive. As well, we have expanded our online teaching, reaching out to more students in distant parts of the country, and we have extended our physical reach to Orange Walk and Corozal. More importantly, perhaps, we began to build on the University’s intellectual stature as the repository for the country’s knowledge, which we hope will assist in addressing Belize’s most pressing development issues. In summary, we have began positioning UB as the nation’s leading university for high-quality and innovative learning and research.
We have many reasons to have pride in UB’s accomplishments as our national university and to have much hope and optimism as we continue on our path to build UB. As we embrace this new year, I wish to share with you some of UB’s goals for 2019.
Our strategic plan, A Transformational Leap: Vision 2022, continues to guide our future growth and development as we continue to live our mission, to make investments that strengthen our University, create an environment for our students and faculty to succeed and position our University for future success.
Several new projects are expanding our capacity to achieve our vision of being the premiere degree-granting University, better serving Belize.
Below are three highlights for 2019.
I. Expanding and enriching our academic programs
The Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health and Social Work (FNAHSW) is being renamed to the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), which will allow UB to develop more programs consistent with national needs like that of a Medical program. With reference to the Medical program, UB is currently developing program specification documents and partnerships with the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua – Managua, the Government of Belize, KHMH and the Belize Medical Council to establish UB’s Medical School – a first of its kind in Belize.
In another significant and related achievement, the Faculty of Management and Social Science (FMSS) has launched a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and is expanding the Associates Degree in Tourism Studies (ATOS) to our Belmopan campus for August 2019. The Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) has also launched a Bachelor’s in Statistics and a Certificate in GIS; while the Faculty of Education and Arts (FEA) has launched a Master’s of Education and Leadership (MEDL).
As well, the Faculty of Management and Social Science (FMSS)is expected to launch two new programs in the new academic year; those are: Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management and Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship. While, the Faculty of Education and Arts (FEA) is working on the development of a Music program. These programs will be presented to the University’s Academic Council for approval this year before going to the Board.
II. Increasing the University’s quality and reputation through Accreditation
One of our central goals, as indicated in our strategic plan, is to offer globally and regionally recognized undergraduate education and be an institution preeminent in Belizean research with excellent graduate programs. To achieve this, our first steps were to adopt a quality assurance framework, standards and processes and to develop a more rigorous examination system in order to meet international standards. This began in 2018, when we launched UB’s Accreditation Drive. For 2019, the goal is to assist our instructors to be more effective teachers. The Faculty of Education and Arts (FEA), along with our Vice President’s Office, will be developing and conducting Pedagogical Skills Training for all its Full-Time Lecturers. The aim of this training will be:
• to equip University of Belize Lecturers with skills, theories and techniques that will enhance their teaching ability
• to develop learning goals for stronger learning outcomes through effective pedagogical designs
• to advance the students and customer experience through improving the quality of teaching and learning at UB.
It is expected that this training, once implemented, will be conducted continuously. This is to ensure that our Faculty members will be able to consistently enhance the global elements of our University’s teaching, research and service activities and a level of certification will also be provided.
III. Developing our facilities into a more integrated living and learning campus
Finally, the University is addressing the matter of its aging infrastructure, which challenges the students, faculty and staff experience, at all of our sites – Belize City, Belmopan, PG, Central Farm and Calabash Caye. The work began in 2018 as part of our Transformation Plan and continues in 2019. This is an enormous undertaking in the absence of dedicated capital funding - rebuilding the UB!
The University has a little over 5,000 students, our highest number since the inception of UB, and is expected to grow each academic year. Therefore, to keep pace with our growing student and Faculty population, UB must and is building and restoring new laboratories, learning spaces and offices for our students and faculty. One such expansion is a new home for our Engineering Department at our Belmopan campus. The India-Belize Center for Engineering (IBCE), which was created from a partnership between the UB, the Government of Belize and the Government of India, aims to create the best environment for engineering training and to provide faculty and students with the latest technology in the field for a much more strengthened teaching and learning framework.
On our main campus, UB is also in the initial stages of identifying and exploring potential opportunities for the development of student dorms and a student center. We hope to offer multi-use spaces for students to study and collaborate outside the classroom. We encourage the Private Sector to partner with us in these initiatives.
2019 is shaping-up to be an exciting one for UB. With your continued investment and commitment to the University of Belize, I am confident that UB will not only achieve its strategic goals, but also, it will continue to be a place where individual passions fuel a collective purpose for national development.
Great opportunities await UB, despite the challenges we face. So, let us stay focused on our Vision 2022 Transformation Plan. I look forward to our continued collaboration as we recommit ourselves in 2019 to transforming our national university.
Again, Happy New Year from the President and the Administrative Team at the University of Belize and best wishes for 2019.