On Wednesday, 20th September, UB President Emeritus Clement Sankat along with academic Deans and Directors addressed at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina in Belize City, Non-resident Ambassadors accredited to Belize on the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Wilfred Elrington. This was a time when the Ambassadors gathered in Belize for the 36th Anniversary Independence Celebrations. The main presentation to the gathering “The University of Belize – An Imperative for a Transformational Leap” was delivered by President Sankat.
During the presentation, UB’s President outlined a brief history of the amalgamation of institutions to create the UB and the distribution of university campus sites across the country to serve Belize. Currently there are 4,924 students attending UB with: 2,658 in Belmopan; 1,642 in Belize City; 56 in Central Farm; 405 in Punta Gorda; and 163 in the north of the country as part of the Sugar Belt Early Childhood Education program. Students are enrolled in certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree programs in the Faculties of Education and Arts, Nursing, Allied Health and Social Work; Management and Social Sciences; Science and Technology, the Regional Language Center; the Environmental Research Institute and the Central Farm.
President Sankat also spoke on topics such as improving the education of Faculty and the physical environment at the campuses, the need for regular curriculum reviews and a renewed focus on applied research. He said “we will take the first tentative steps to build this research culture at UB, through our Faculty and a small cadre of graduate students, at the Masters level and in defined areas of our current expertise.”
A key area emphasized during the session was the need for financing and to “create a culture of giving back to the University, managing alumni relations, philanthropy, building public/private/international partnerships, and developing new business ventures must be approaches advanced for capital development and an endowment fund in particular.” President Sankat noted that the UB cannot achieve the transformation on its own. It has the vision and determination but capacity must be built through partnerships for funding, educational opportunities, research and program development including joint degrees between institutions. He spoke to the benefit of international partnerships and where assistance from the international community, international universities and funding institutions can play a vital role in advancing Belize’s higher education. President Sankat appealed to the Diplomats to consider the National University of Belize in their deliberations as the development of the human capital in Belize is a pre-cursor to sustainable development of the Country.
Several diplomats spoke of areas of interest and possible collaboration with UB. During the consultation, High Commissioner of India to Belize, Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi guaranteed several areas of cooperation with UB, including short term training for Faculty in India and the procurement of engineering equipment for UB’s Engineering Department, via the Government of Belize.