On Thursday the University of Belize lifted the veil on an important internal evaluation of the national university’s present programs, policies and plans for the future. The Institutional Curriculum Review, according to the University, is designed to create an ongoing program of academic reviews that will help to monitor and constantly improve the quality of the institution’s academic programs. On Thursday, Assistant Provost Dr. Cynthia Thompson shared details of the review process.
Dr. Cynthia Thompson – Assistant Provost:
If we look at the activity timeline, in the year one what we did was planning and preparation. So for the most part it was looking at what we had, where we want to go, and therefore some of the strategies we’re going to use to get there. In this coming year 2013 to 2014 we’ll be looking at the development of standards and policies, and that will be for online learning, for campus-based programs, [and] for tenure and promotion. We have to look at tenure and promotion especially. We’re the product of a merger, which happened 13 years ago, and we still have remnants of some of the structures that are holding us back. So we have to examine those structures and how we will move forward to make sure that the University is prepared to meet the new challenges in this day. We will be reviewing a selected number of programs from each of the four faculties, and we’ll be looking at the competency-based approach to the development and delivery of those programs.
President of UB, Dr. Cary Fraser, noted in particular Belize’s position as a language link between the Caribbean and Central America.
Dr. Cary Fraser – President of UB:
So the Institutional Curriculum Review is in many ways about retooling the University, to think about how national development needs to be addressed. I say this, because I think it’s also important since I’ve come here, this country is the only English-speaking country in Central America. It sits geographically at the intersection between the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Americas. What is particularly important is: if the fact that so many of the people in this country speak either Spanish or English; or Spanish and English; or Spanish, English and Creole; or some variance of those three languages; what you in fact have is a multi-lingual population. If that multi-lingual facility becomes institutionalized in ways of making the University a bilingual University, think about the implications in terms of the way Belizeans get trained. They can be trained to work in both Spanish America and English-speaking America.
Dr. Thompson then spoke about the benefits of this self-examination.
Now out of all of that, we will over the course of this next year, which is ‘13/’14 work on the establishment of University Standards that will drive each of the four faculties in the development of the programs, and in the introduction of new programs that they will identify out of the consultations that they have done. We also want, in this first year, to begin to look at the development of graduate profiles. The University has to move forward, and there have been people who have been clamoring for degrees other than Bachelors, but we want to make sure that once we start delivering Bachelors Degree Programs and Masters Degree Programs that they are sound and they’re of quality. So we want to make sure in this year that we develop the structure for the delivery of these programs. In the course of this year we will also be developing program specifications. Those program specifications will be for the revision of existing programs and, where required, the development of specifications for new programs.
The University was established from an amalgamation of five tertiary level institutions in multiple districts and now offers classes around the country through various programs.