The Texila American University campus which sits along the East Coast Demerara Highway at Goedverwagting. Guyana Guardian photo
By Andrea Fernandes
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Fearing further public scrutiny of its operations in Guyana, Texila American University recently move to court asking that international journalist and editor-in-chief of the Guyana Guardian, Dennis Adonis, be silenced from making any form of negative disclosures in an impending investigative story with the working headline: “Eight former Texila University students making moves to reclaim millions of dollars that were allegedly defrauded from them”.
The article in question was based upon interviews with several students who had accused Texila American University of defrauding them of millions of dollars, since they had paid for medical degrees that were later discovered to be lacking of any international accreditation.
Many of the students had provided the Guyana Guardian with several copies of receipts and email communications with Texila. The publication has since decided that it will go ahead and publish those documents, payment receipts and email communication between the aggrieved students and Texila, before the end of this week, so that the public can seek out the truth for themselves.
The Guardian had also indicated that it will go ahead and publish two recordings, and several email exchanges that it had with the World Health Organization, officials at India’s Medical Council, and two high ranking sources at the US Department of Education among others, as it relates to Texila, as a matter of public interest.
While the publication itself was not targeted in the court action, efforts are specifically being made by Texila to stop Adonis from writing another investigative article for the Al Jazeera Network under the headline “Medical Council of India official agrees that Guyana based university on their register might be using MCI registration to defraud students abroad”, and also from writing another pending article for the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington Post under the headline “FBI says that they are already monitoring Guyana based offshore university”.
Outside of serving as the editor-in-chief at the Guyana Guardian, Adonis is also a contributing writer with a number of international news publications, including the world’s most powerful news blog: the Huffington Post.
Considering his capacity to reach thousands of potential readers internationally, observers are of the view that Texila may have found it necessary to restrain the writer from further investigating and negatively reporting on their operations.
Shackled by his checkered past, Texila had pressed the public not to believe Adonis’ writings and to rely on his bygones as enough grounds to ignore the credibility of his findings. But that strategy has evidently failed, since a usually reliable source and several students that were previously associated with the institution had established that more than half of the students had already left the university after researching its international accreditation claims based upon the particulars that were established in the Guyana Guardian articles.
When the articles were first published, more than 20 present and past students subsequently contacted the Guyana Guardian, and have since shared some damning information and documentation with the publication.
Moreover, at least 18 other mainstream international news outlets had republished the stories, particularly in countries where Texila recruits students, and which have since dented the institution’s recruitment efforts, as students kept pressing the university for evidence of international recognition.
However, while an interim injunction was allowed for several of these previous articles and against the author himself, none was granted against the Guyana Guardian.
However, several legal minds that looked at the interim injunction order were adamant that the presiding judge, Priya Beharry, did not specify what were the aggrieved words or statements that Texila was seeking relief from. As such, the interim injunction was flawed in its scope.
Moreover, while Texila had included copies of the Guyana Guardian articles and a registration certificate from Guyana Accreditation Council, no proof was provided to the court that the medical degrees that are being issued by Texila are internationally recognized.
The university had previously claimed that its degrees were recognized by the World Health Organization, but the international body has labelled that claim as fraudulent since it does not accredit medical training schools.
The Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), the only regional body that has the power to grant recognition for medical degrees offered by the institutions in the Caribbean Community, had also told the Guyana Guardian that the medical degrees issued by Texila University in Guyana were not accredited by them.
The university had also claimed recognition in the United States, but several medical health boards in the US have denied this, while establishing that, for Guyana, only degrees issued by the University of Guyana’s Health Sciences Faculty were recognized by them.
More than a week ago, Adonis had written to the operators of Texila urging them to facilitate an interview at which he had planned to provide a dossier of evidence from several students who are in the process of suing the institution for fraud.
However, in the university’s application to the court, a man by the name of Immanuel Prabalanathan and who identified himself as the operations director of Texila, explained that they had felt threatened (fearful) by the three impending stories, and had therefore asked for an injunction to silence Adonis.
The Guyana Guardian has since informed several of the disgruntled Texila students with whom it has been communicating, and most of them have since agreed to give evidence against the university in court, whenever that time comes.
Others maintain that they will be more than eager to give evidence if they can get their monies back.
Asked to comment on this development, Adonis, who is currently on leave, explained that his response will be reserved for the courts, or probably after he is able to properly peruse the particulars of the interim injunction.
The matter comes up for hearing on 7 February 2017.
Republished with permission of the Guyana Guardian