UB Imprint Vol 50: UB Hosts the 113th Meeting of CSUCA – A historic moment for our University

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UB Imprint Vol 50: UB Hosts the 113th Meeting of CSUCA – A historic moment for our University

UB Hosts the 113th Meeting of CSUCA – A historic moment for our University

A notable evolution in the last decade in the education process, particularly for developing countries, has been the internationalization of education through an increasing emphasis on regional integration in higher education. In Central America, the most prominent example is the Consejo Superior Universitario Centro Americano (CSUCA), or the Central American Higher Education Council, which aims to promote Central American integration, with a focus on strengthening and deepening the alignment and modality of higher education in Central American societies. The CSUCA is one of the oldest regional organization of higher education systems in the world, where its members consist of public universities from the countries of the Central American Integration System (SICA) – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

This year, Belize’s national university and Belize’s only CSUCA member – the University of Belize (UB) –hosted the 113th Ordinary Session of CSUCA on April 10th and 11th, 2019. This was a first for Belize and for UB in CSUCA’s more than seventy-year history. This alliance is particularly important for a young country like Belize, and more specifically for UB and its graduates, because it is through the process of internationalization that UB graduates will learn to effectively respond to the demands, opportunities and challenges of social, economic and labor market globalization, which is typically characterized by the global flow of people, information, knowledge, technology, and education services. Therefore, to enhance its students’ global competitiveness, UB, through its membership in CSUCA, has prioritized internationalizing student learning and teaching to foster global knowledge and skills necessary for our graduates to perform professionally and socially in international, multicultural environments.

This rich and engaging two- day session, which was led by CSUCA’s current President, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat – UB’s President, engaged Central American University Presidents and Rectors in discussions pertaining to the state of education in the region and shared best practices and solutions to address persistent developmental issues such as financing, lack of post-graduate programs and student engagement. More importantly, however, were the critical yet ambitious priorities deliberated for strengthened cooperation, deeper integration amongst and between member universities as well as aggressive strategies for achieving world-class educational status and its application to higher education as a means of exerting its cultural soft power globally. Discussed and approved were several key initiatives, inter alia:
1. The harmonization of the cost of tuition between the universities to allow for easier access to higher education for nationals of CSUCA members within CSUCA Universities
2. Guiding Frameworks for CSUCA Universities to expand its reach and role within the region for deeper integration to not only ensure access to tertiary education, but also to ensure CSUCA Universities offer programs that are relevant, innovative and applicable to the needs and priorities of the various societies in an effort to drive the development of our region.
3. Programs of out-reach that make Universities of Central America more socially responsible to our rural populace.
4. The implementation of an online Master’s Program in Disaster Risk Management, whereby all CSUCA nationals would be able to access this training starting September 2019.

Another significant outcome of the meeting was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Belize and the University of Nicaragua – Managua (UNAN-M), which will allow for collaboration on areas of mutual interest, particularly the development of a Medical Program for the University of Belize, which is expected to commence in 2020.
There was also a spirited discussion on the implications of the unrest to Universities and for University students in Nicaragua. CSUCA agreed to allow the process of reconciliation to take its course. CSUCA also accepted an invitation for its next meeting to be hosted by UNAN-M in Nicaragua.

CSUCA is devoted to the deepening of the region’s multilateral relations and to improving the quality of higher education in Central America. It is clear that in an increasingly borderless world where education is perceived as both a trade and an industry, the University of Belize sees education – and higher education in particular – as a key enabler for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the country and one which will allow Belize, and its Central American counterparts, to fully participate in the solution of national, regional and global problems.

The President of the University of Belize, and in his capacity as President of CSUCA for the 2018- 2019 year, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat, once again thanks the Secretary General Dr. Carlos Alvarado Cerezo and his team as well as the current Presidents and Rectors of CSUCA Universities and CSUCA’s Secretariat for a successful and productive session. President Sankat also thanks his team from the University of Belize for the exceptional work in hosting this historic meeting in Belize.