Belizean community activists say that American Global University School of Medicine is a “bogus” institution; but the school’s vice president, who called local media Wednesday, says the school is legitimate.
AGUSM’s vice president Peggy Allen, speaking via telephone from her United States office, explained that the week-long public relations assault on the school is the result of individuals who simply do not understand how the institution operates.
Responding to the questions regarding the Ladyville campus apparent lack of student life, Allen said the campus is empty because the property has been newly acquired and that they are in the process of remodelling the building.
She added that the students who are presently enrolled at AGUSM are all outside of Belize, because they have transitioned to the university’s clinical program in various U.S. cities and in the United Kingdom.
“We are the only medical university in Belize which sends students to the US to practice,” Allen said.
She added that they will soon extend an invitation to the media to come and tour the compound.
Allen, however, wasn’t the only one to chime in on the issue, as the Ministry of Education also issued a press release this week, in response to the allegations.
The Ministry of Education assured that it will inspect the school to determine if it is abiding with the terms of its charter.
But whether Allen’s explanation is sufficient to placate local activists, remains to be seen.
On Tuesday, roughly 24 hours prior to Allen’s media interview, Phillip “Fawda” Henry—who first raised red flags about the school in a one-man protest outside the school’s Ladyville compound near the airport road on the Philip Goldson Highway—took his campaign a step further, when he and University of Belize Patrick Menzies chaired a press conference to explain why they believe the school is a fraud and a “rip-off”.
Henry, speaking at the press briefing, said: “These people … that run the American Global that live abroad take third world countries for ‘nincompoops’. This university is just a ghost house.”
Henry also called on the Prime Minister to order a full investigation into the school.
“Somebody has to answer and answer quickly, he said.” Who gave these people license to perform in Belize?”
Menzies also had some harsh criticism for the school, basically labelling it a diploma mill—an unaccredited institution of higher learning that awards degrees to students without ensuring that those students are adequately qualified for the field of study being pursued.
“People are being exploited; taken advantage of and being ripped off,” he said.
Menzies said that Allen reported that the school graduated 200 medical doctors, but his attempts to find those students were futile.
“I looked at their graduates and I Googled them and I couldn’t find any of them.”
Menzies also pointed to certain discrepancies: “According to the website, it says ‘Join us for the May 2013 class’ but the reports that I got on the web said that they won’t open again until September. So why does the website say that they are starting May 2013?”
AGUSM was granted a charter by the Belize Government to operate an off-shore medical school in November 2005, in Belmopan.
Since it opened its doors, it has changed its campus location on two occasion over the last three years.
It has moved from Belmopan to San Pedro, and then it moved from San Pedro to Ladyville Village sometime in February.
Allen said that with their accreditation, their students are eligible to complete all US medical licensing application, and mirrors US medical standards.
In 2011, a complaint was filed with the attorney general office in the state of Ohio, which conducted an investigation of AGUSM.
The information is listed as a rip-off Report | American Global University School of Medicine | Complaint Review: 765743.