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Friday 6 December 2019
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ACTT investigating complaints at USC

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THE Accreditation Council of TT (ACTT) has revealed that two matters at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) have been brought to its attention and the body is investigating them.

The council is the principal body for conducting and advising on the accreditation and recognition of post-secondary and tertiary educational and training institutions, programs and awards.

In an email response to Newsday in October, the council said it received information about the USC. The USC, in their response, also confirmed that the council is investigating two reports.

The university told Newsday, “The USC has fully complied with the ACTT’s request for information regarding the first complaint and will respond to the second complaint as required.”

Both the council and USC did not say what the complaints against the university were.

The investigation comes while a former lecturer has threatened to take the school to court for allegations of fraud, and the resignation of another lecturer who accused the university of not upholding its moral code of conduct. The second lecturer refused to give the students the exams and refused later to submit grades since he did not examine them.

In a four-page pre-action protocol letter, a former lecturer through her then attorney Samantha Ramsaran, alleged that the university asked her to allow a student to retroactively sign a register and input grades into the school’s system for the student. Additionally, the lecturer claims that two of her final exams were not given to her students, but another test written by a colleague was, and her name attached to that test.

After the pre-action letter was sent, Newsday was informed of another lecturer resigning last year after he raised concerns about two students verbally abusing him. The lecturer said he received two phone calls from relatives of one of the students which he interpreted as threatening. When these concerns were raised, the lecturer was advised to “err on the side of caution” and allow the students to write their final exams.

The lecturer, in a series of emails to his superiors, called for a full investigation into the incident and subsequent outside influence by the student’s relatives. He asked that the final exam be deferred but that was ignored, and he was ordered to administer the exam. He subsequently resigned.

This intended lawsuit and the lecturer who was verbally assaulted are some of the issues lecturers and students claim they are facing with the university. Earlier this year, students said they were told they will not receive their degrees unless the establishment is paid outstanding fees.

In August, graduates claimed they were being made to sign contracts making them liable to pay if their Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) weren’t paid. This came after the university made students sign promissory notes to pay their GATE fees before they can graduate. Students who signed and graduated were then told that they will not get their degrees until the fees are paid to the school.

In a petition addressed to vice president for academic admission, Dr Wanda Chesney, students – mostly from the south campus said they registered for classes between 8 am and 4 pm, but classes are only available beginning at 4.30 pm ending at 7 pm and later.

The students said when they contacted officials at USC, they were told “welcome to university life.” The students complained that with a high crime rate, especially against women, they feel unsafe leaving campus at night for courses that they were told will be available during the day.

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