Medical University of the Americas of Belize - Gone or in rest?

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 11            March 13, 2008

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Although the school campus is closed, there are three students that are being taught their two year basic science program at another undisclosed location.

On the November 29th, 2001 issue of The San Pedro Sun the headline announced the reality of a Medical University on the island. Named the Medical University of the Americas – Belize, this institution was founded in 1998 in an effort to provide a comprehensive four-year program leading to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.

    Since then, the island has seen medical students come and go as they complete their education. However, the school has, since last year, been closed and their campus has had a “for sale” sign on the front. Taking a look at their website,, it seems that, even though, the actual campus is closed down, MUAB is still seeking enrollment since their academic calendar rolls out until January of 2010.

    Dr. Jeffrey Sersland, President of MUAB stated on a telephone interview, “A building does not constitute a school. School is the academics, the campus is just a building.” Dr. Sersland explained that their curriculum includes two years of a basic science program and two years where their students perform clinicals and do rotations in hospitals abroad.

    According to Dr. Sersland, although the school campus is closed, there are three students that are being taught their two year basic science program, at an undisclosed location in San Pedro, and all other students are presently in rotation in various USA hospitals. He went on to state that due to many financial setbacks that were incurred by MUAB and the fact, that US students were unable to successfully acquire student loans, made for a low student base at MUAB. Because of this, the school was forced to close temporarily. However, Dr. Sersland remains optimistic, and ended his interview by stating that come their new September semester, close to forty new students will make their way to the island.

    Interviews from various sources have verified with The San Pedro Sun that academics were never the problem at MUAB, “Students have nothing to worry about. The credentials received at MUAB, are up to par and do meet with the necessary medical standards,” explained an interviewee.

    An article written in March 6th, 2007 entitled Legal Fight, new partner spur Medquest move and subtitled, Former Northwest Wisconsin company caught up in the shadowy world of offshore medical school printed on stated “There’s a lot of money to be made in the offshore medical business […]. That attracts a lot of dishonest people.” The article speaks of Medquest, the company that owns MUAB and a second institution called the Medical University of the Americas – London (MUAL). It makes mention of Drs. Jeffrey and Renae Sersland and states that David Gill, MD, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist in Gardner, MA, bought the Sersland’s half of Medquest. Dr. Gill, on an interview via telephone, denied making that purchase and Dr. Sersland corroborated that fact.

    The article speaks of St. Christopher’s College of Medicine in Luton, England, and the fact that, after investigations, the UK decided to suspend the recognition of degrees issued by the institution. Medquest stepped in and decided to purchase the flailing institution. “None of the grades, none of the degrees that the kids were on their way to earning would have any validity at all. […] They’d have to start all over again. So, we went and we said we have a pretty workable government where we’re from in Belize. We believed we could get a branch charter from Belize to have a school in London. So, we extended our charter and, essentially we were the white knight. But there was nothing left of the other business when we got there. We could have just gone there and established our own school starting from scratch and it would have been easier.” That comment was made by general surgeon Norman Hans Rechsteiner, owner of half of Medquest which is the company that owns MUAB. When Medquest took over St. Christopher’s it was renamed the Medical University of the Americas – London.

    What the article pointed out is true; there is money to be made in the offshore medical university business. In Belize, there are four medical institutions, including MUAB but San Pedro has seen its fair run of three various institutions, St. Matthew’s Medical University, St. Luke’s Medical University and the remaining one MUAB. Belize has what is called the Belize Medical School Accreditation Committee whose sole purpose is to accredit any medical university that plan to open up in Belize. Applicant must note that they will also be required to sign a Charter with the Government of Belize which details the terms and conditions of the operation of the school, and assumes responsibility for every batch of students to complete their course of study. On signing of the charter, the applicant must: Make a non-refundable deposit of BZ $100,000 to the Government of Belize; Pay an administration/accreditation fee of BZ $50,000 and, Pay an annual license fee of BZ $20,000. If at the end of the first year of operation, all criteria for the granting of the charter are not fulfilled, the charter becomes null and void.

    MUAB followed all criteria and specifications set forth. Financially they might have encountered problems; problems that Dr. Sersland believes will become a thing of the past. “Whether we open at our old campus or not, MUAB will return to San Pedro.”
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