By Aaron Humes
Several Indian students attending the Central America Health Sciences University (CAHSU) on the Burrell Boom Road are planning to sue the man who they say sold them a “barrel of goods” to come here to study, only to be duped on arrival in Belize.
Information about Venkata Gopi or Gopala Venkat, as he is known, came to light after he appeared on an Indian television station recently, suggesting that Belize is not a suitable venue for a medical university, going so far as to cast doubt on the local climate and access to services.
But the results of an investigation undertaken by The Reporter and our colleagues at PLUS TV, reveal that Venkat may be the one not telling the truth.
Several students we spoke with said that Venkat’s North American Service Center boasted a ‘direct link’ to the University and promised to take care of all financial needs for a one-time payment of just BZ$21,000. The Center claimed that if they paid everything up front as part of a special package, they would get a discount. Instead, says first-year student, Jaspreet Sangh, they found on arrival that they were left high and dry.
First-year student Sativika Rana says the news left her and others “depressed” at first.
“We felt like we were in hell, in trouble,” she said, adding that only after the school agreed to give them a chance to continue their studies that their depression lifted.
Another student, Esniya Andrade, says they were painted a “completely different” picture of what was available to them here than what they actually found.
“All the books, the instruments, especially the payment issues – the agents charged us more.Llater we came to learn that the fees were less but the agents charged us more,” she disclosed.
According to Sangh, the college has been patient with them as they pursue the recovery of their money. They have not seen or heard from Venkat in months.
“The college is supporting us. They are giving us classes, They are continuing.with the schedule, but until now our problem has not been sorted out. For this problem to be sorted out there is only one solution: [The Center] should pay our fees and there should be no further delay,” Sangh said.
While they continue to sort out their predicament, the students are enjoying their time here. The campus, lushly forested and dominated by charming, wide-open buildings, is centrally located. Students live in the residential community of Los Lagos, about three miles away.
If they have a need for groceries, Ladyville is a few miles beyond, and Belize City is just half an hour away. Esniya Andrade, who comes from the hot sub-tropical climate of India, told us that in contrast, Belize feels just right.
The Reporter was not able to speak to any member of the University’s management for comment, but none of the students appears to fear losing the opportunity to be educated in Belize.
Sangh, however, does have some advice for future students – settle your bills in person at the school’s campus.
CAHSU was established 19 years ago and has a solid reputation as a training college for medical practitioners.