Update: Since the time of this letter Professor Sankat addressed the issue affecting students. Read here: https://goo.gl/LLfVSA
Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat,
I hope this finds you well, and you're having a great start to the year 2018. I'm a recent student at the University of Belize who completed studies in December, 2017. I write on behalf of a vast number of students who are in my shoes, expressing through this medium the discontent and rush of displeasure that one of your recent changes has caused.
Back in January, 2017 many of us happily complied with the University's process of applying for program completion evaluation for December, and graduation in February,2018. Some of us, more excited than others made plans for the future including scholarship applications, and the foreseen salary adjustments that our attained degree would help with.
Unfortunately, I like many others found out too late about certain changes that were being made at the University. If not for social media channels many of us would not know that there were drastic changes ahead for graduations plans. The long tradition of February and June graduations by the University of Belize came to a halt. Instead, from my understanding there will be only one graduation in Belize City for all campuses in June, which was also being contemplated to be in October.
I understand this is in an effort to save money. I agree and applaud many of the changes and rules that have been set in place including the improvements in infrastructure. However, this one change affects many of us in negative ways. Those persons who finished in Summer 2017 will have to wait almost an entire year to receive their degree, and those who finished in December 2017 like myself will need to wait for 6 months.
Thus, that being said we're not graduates until the day of graduation, because then and only then will our degrees be confirmed. That means all you can get before graduation is a Letter of Completion. Now with that said, I patiently took the time and financial requirements to get this letter to present to my current employer only to find out that it is "worthless". The only piece of paper that will allow me to get an increment or any of the sort is the actual diploma. Furthermore, the graduate program I had hoped to send in an application will have to wait, due to the fact that they only allow a period of four months to submit all missing documents.
A Letter of Completion will not allow "all" of those who are working to receive a raise in pay until after June and even then it will not be retroactive. While, those who want to apply for a scholarship - a lot of scholarship programs and Universities may not accept the Letter of Completion.
Getting students successfully through university, further studies, and into the workforce is a shared responsibility among the government, institutions like yours, students, and families. It starts with transparency. Things must be done with due process and transparently, and there was absolutely no consultation about this change with the students of the University. The University of Belize needs to set its own standards, it must consult its students, especially something as severe of a change as this. If UB da truly "fu all a wi" then it must inform, educate and consult its students on such a serious matters.
Some will argue that this is the way things are being done in the Caribbean such as the UWI, and others. However, this is Belize and even a Junior College such as Sacred Heart Junior College allows students who finish in December to apply for their diplomas before the actual graduation date. Other international Universities also allow for this process to help accommodate students. The graduation ceremony is rather symbolic and a formality to be honest, most of us who have finished won't wait all this time for simple participation. We simply want our diplomas at the end of the day.
On behalf of all those being affected by this decision, I urge and humbly request that there be a process through which we can attain our degrees in February as we had expected. This decision should not have affected those of us who were already given a date to expect our degrees.
published by Alberto J. Matus