Vice-Chancellor Resolves 5% Tuition Adjustment Issues

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith met with his Cabinet, student leaders and the wider student body on Monday, October 3, on his return to Guyana earlier that day from business travel abroad, to clarify matters regarding an approved but unimplemented 5% tuition fee adjustment on University of Guyana programmes currently costing below G$250,000 a year. The adjustment amounts to G$8,000 per year per student, or G$667 per month per student.

The Administration acknowledged that an email from the Registry last Friday, which sought to address an administrative error in computing a 5% adjustment that was approved since 2014, did not reflect the approach of the present leadership team. As a consequence, the email has been revoked and the Vice Chancellor has secured the endorsement of the University’s Finance and General Purposes Committee of his recommendation to forgo the increase this year.

Forgoing this adjustment creates a G$60 million shortfall in projected 2016-2017 revenues. The University has already suffered from severe revenue imbalances due to falling exchange rates, some of the lowest tuition fees in the world, ageing infrastructure, and low salaries. Vice Chancellor Griffith noted that the shortfall will have to be met from some other source, since the era of sub-optimal teaching and learning conditions at Guyana’s sole national University must end now. He encouraged students to focus on being the best students they can be, and he invited students, alumni and the wider community to be resource advocates for the University, using their networks, civic and business contacts.

Matters raised with regard to the Facilities Fee were also addressed. The Facilities Fee, which was introduced in 2014, consolidated a series of lab, contingency and services fees previously paid by students, into a single sum of G$50,000. Twenty percent of the Fee, or G$10,000 goes to the student society, library and other direct services for students. Of the remainder, the largest proportion goes to student labs, field trips, projects, off campus training, sports and overseas travel for students.

Fifty-five million dollars (G$55m) of the balance in the Facilities Fee account is being utilized to acquire a new student complex. The brainchild of Vice Chancellor Griffith, the student facility is being developed in collaboration with the current University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) leadership, and is expected to be ready by January 2017. In honoring its commitment to transparency and accountability, the new UG leadership will provide bi-monthly updates on the infrastructure projects and the use of the Facilities Fee from October 2016. The Facilities Fee, long a source of contention on campus, is governed by a committee comprising administrators, student leaders, and academics.

The new Vice Chancellor, who attended The University of Guyana in the 1970’s and who was once a student leader, embarked upon a Renaissance project upon taking office in June 2016. His vision includes re-branding UG, restoring academic rigor and pride, re-building physical infrastructure and plant, re-engaging students, staff, alums, the wider Guyanese society and the Diaspora and responding to nationally- and internationally-relevant circumstances and needs. The pursuit of an enhanced learning environment at all campuses continues to be one of the Administration’s highest priorities.

Background to The Fee Adjustment

Since the establishment of UG in 1963, successive political administrations have articulated the importance of its role in the development of the nation’s human capital. In pursuit of this objective university education in Guyana has traditionally been subsidized by the country’s taxpayers.

Amidst the challenges that have ensued over more than half a century the University has remained steadfast in its objectives, though a point had long been reached when the cost of tuition ought to have become a collective responsibility, shared by government, through an annual subvention, the corporate community, through the provision of various forms of technical and financial support, and students and/or their parents and/or guardians through the payment of tuition fees, which are heavily subsidized.

In mid-2014, the University of Guyana Council, UG’s highest policy-making body, finally came to terms with the reality that tuition fees bore no relation whatsoever to the cost of delivering quality tertiary education. Accordingly, it decided on a three-year tuition fee adjustment in the amounts of 5% for 2015-2016, 5% for 2016-2017 and 5% for 2017-2018. These adjustments were to have been made at the commencement of each of the respective academic years, with a view to bringing the tuition fees in line with those recommended by various consultants, including Trevor Hamilton and Associates, a respected Caribbean higher education consultancy firm, in 2012.

Computer software and administrative glitches currently being resolved did not make the adjustment that should have been applied to the tuition invoices in the Students Management Records System (SRMS). The UG Administration is working with service providers to bring campus-wide wireless internet facilities to the Turkeyen and Berbice Campuses as well as to ensure that there is connectivity with the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) Centres at New Amsterdam, Anna Regina, Linden and Georgetown, in the shortest possible time.

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

UG IN BRIEF

With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, The University of Guyana (UG) has graduated more than 20,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. The University is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. Established in 1963 on a part-time basis with shared space at Queens College, UG moved to its own campus at Turkeyen in 1970 and expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more than 60 under-graduate and post-graduate programmes including Engineering, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Urban Planning and Management, Tourism Studies, Education, Creative Arts, Economics, Law, Medicine, Optometry and Nursing. Several online programmes are available and UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education. UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.

Public Relations Division
October 6, 2016

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