As the longest and largest serving university in Belize, the University of Belize (UB) is a unique and historic institution. It is Belize’s national and only public university with a history that is deeply entwined with the history of Belize and its development, standing as a tangible symbol of nationalism, independence and an ingrained desire for the organic development of a Belizean consciousness and identity.
The University of Belize, in its present form, was established in August 1st, 2000 by the amalgamation of the merger of five institutions: The University College of Belize (UCB), the Belize Technical College (BTC), the Belize Teachers’ Training College (BTTC), the Belize School of Nursing (BSN), and the Belize College of Agriculture (BCA). Each has an inspiring history and tradition, which the University continues to build on, as a center of academic excellence and committed to service for national development. Its main campus is located in the country’s capital, Belmopan City and has three other campuses in Belize City, Central Farm, and Punta Gorda. The University also owns and manages two marine field stations at Calabash and Hunting Caye.
Our History, Our Beginnings
Interest in and aspirations for university education in the colony of British Honduras began in 1940’s when Great Britain passed the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, which enabled access to scholarships to universities in the Commonwealth and saw the establishment of the University of the West Indies (UWI). In January 1964, British Honduras became a self-governing colony of England and was renamed Belize on June 1st , 1973.
By 1977, Belize Technical College (BTC), established in 1952, the Belize School of Nursing (BSN), created in 1894, the Belize Teacher’s Training College (BTTC), developed in 1965, and the Belize College of Agriculture (BCA), formed in 1977, were the four primary education and training institutions in Belize.
However, with a move towards independence, nationalists began calling for a national university to be established, which would serve the higher education and developmental needs of the country. As a response, in 1977, Belize saw the creation of the Committee for Sixth Form Studies and the outcome was the establishment of the Belize College of Arts, Science and Technology (BELCAST) in September 1979.
In 1981, Belize got its independence, but by 1986, with much political pressure combined with the challenges to meet its mission and function as a tertiary institution, BELCAST was dismantled and on July 26th 1986, in a second attempt, the University College of Belize (UCB) was formed. However, like that of BELCAST, UCB in its formative years, was unable to address the needs of the country; which, in this case, was due to having an American University, Ferris State University, in full control over the administration, teaching and learning functions and service operations.
By 1991 and in keeping with the political changes and the mandate to empower Belizeans to direct their future, the Government of Belize assumed full responsibility of the University and initiated the development of UCB as the national university serving Belize with curriculums that were more relevant and responsive to the development needs of the country. UCB was redefined with a commitment to self-inquiry and a relevant curriculum with high standards and prudent international relationships that would lead to Belize becoming a contributor to the international knowledge network and global labor force.
And in January 1999, under new government leadership, the decision was made, once more, and in a final attempt, to establish a truly national University. This would be done through the integration of UCB and the four educational and training institutions, each Government-owned and financed. The intention was that through the centralization of resources and materials, the facilitation of lecturers across academic programs and the formation of one administrative and governing body, a single higher education institution would be more forceful in producing the scholarly dialogues on important issues affecting the country’s development and progress, in producing its own professionals and para-professionals at a high level of training and providing greater access to university education for Belizeans, which would allow for an increased pool of well-educated university citizenry to the power development of the country and to enable the university community to engage in research related to national development.
UCB contributed significantly to the establishment of academic systems and financial/administrative structures of a university and it is on these foundations, together with that of the other four institutions, who with their own unique strengths and steadfast traditions provided a viable University of Belize to be constructed with a mission articulated with the nation’s development goals and strategies. The University of Belize is Belize’s realization of a nationalized higher education system for knowledge advancement and national development. Today, The UB is Belize’s leading center of learning, teaching, and research and has four faculties offering a wide range of programs in Humanities and Education, Science and Technology, Science and Agriculture, Engineering, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences.