Task forces proposes axing political, special interest reps from UG council
A task force set up to examine the governance structure of the University Of Guyana (UG) has recommended that the membership of the university’s governing council be severely pared down and its functions restricted to policy formation so that the Vice-Chancellor (VC) can have greater autonomy in the day-to-day running of the institution.
Speaking on Tuesday at a Media Luncheon to mark the end of his second year in office, Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith noted that with the permission of the University Council, the task force, led by Professor Lawrence Carrington, was constituted to review the governance structure of the university.
After a year and a half of work, the task force is set to present its recommendations on July 26th at an extraordinary meeting of the council.
Among the recommendations to be presented is a call for “no partisan political representation or special interest representation on the university council.”
Griffith noted that the current University of Guyana Act requires that representatives from the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, American University of State Colleges and Universities, Committee for International Cooperation and Higher Education of the United Kingdom be included in the council, yet these bodies are “not interested in us.”
“Governance recommendation is that there should be a slimmer governance council focused on competencies and not special interest representation. That is a significant recommendation to what is proposed as the current governance arrangement,” Griffith stressed.
UG Registrar Dr. Nigel Gravesande further explained that the intention of the task force was to ensure that there was a greater level of intellectual autonomy at the university.
“The contraction of its membership ought not to be interpreted that sectoral interests would not be taken into consideration, but mechanisms would be put in place to ensure that these interests find their way into the governance operations, whether it is at the level of the Council that they be invited or the Academic Board, for example, to which private sector’s involvement in curriculum review, curriculum refocusing to meet the developmental needs can in fact be catered for,” he explained.
Reminding that there existed a nine month gap between the expiration of the last council and the establishment of the current one, Gravesande noted that the recommendation will allow for a seamless transition from one council to the other as appointments will not be blocked.
He stressed too that the recommendation will allow the Chief Executive, the VC, to have greater autonomy since the council will deal with policy and the VC will deal with “operational issues with a mechanism for accountability that is clear.”
“For the last 50 years, one saw an intrusion by the University Council into operational issues of the university; the day-to-day administration,” he stressed.
Gravesande noted that the existence of a “mechanism for accountability” will prevent a rogue administration from developing as the VC will have to report on all activities on a regular basis.
Griffith also noted that the existence of several reporting structures outside of the council will prevent the development of a runaway VC as there is the “Academic Board, the Finance and General Purposes Committee, and the Council of Deans.”
Griffith and Gravesande both indicated that if approved by Council, the recommendations would have to be approved by the National Assembly as an Amendment to the current University of Guyana Act.
Griffith has already met with Attorney General Basil Williams in expectation of this reality.
The University of Guyana Act currently states that the Council shall consist of 26 members, including the Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, and Principal and Vice-Chancellors. The other members, according to the Act, must be drawn as follows: One person to be nominated by the Committee of Deans; one person to be nominated by the Academic Board; one from the Guild of Graduates; one from the Student Society; one from the University of Guyana Workers’ Union; one from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Development; one from the Ministry of Finance; one from the political party in office; one from the minority leader; four from Non-Governmental Organisations which in the opinion of the minister best represents the interest of women, farmers, Amerindians and business; one from the Guyana Trades Union Congress; three by the Minister to contribute in the field of medicine and law; six persons identified by the Chancellor and of which one shall be from each of the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, American University of State Colleges and Universities, Committee for International Cooperation and Higher Education of the United Kingdom and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Bulk of Gov't grant expended on University of Guyana oil and gas programme
A significant portion of the $100 M grant which the University of Guyana secured last year as part of Government's effort to help the institution establish an Oil and Gas programme, has been expended. Last year, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the University of Guyana (UG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a $100 million philanthropic education grant for the period 2017-2018.
The grant provided the University of Guyana's, Faculty of Technology with much-needed equipment for its geology labs, curriculum development, training, outreach, and field research, all linked to the emerging oil and gas sector. It also provided specific allocations for all other faculties for student-centered enhancements at the university.
Speaking about the programme, Vice Chancellor of UG Professor Ivelaw Griffith explained that this is one of the university's most significant grants, with the GGMC. Griffith said that it is an investment by the Government in the institution, in an area critical to the nation's economy. He said that the project is a result of UG long-standing relationship with GGMC. He highlighted the fact, that many of the commission's staff through scholarships has received their higher education at the institution. To date, 87% of the finances have been pumped into realising UG's oil and gas programme.
Some $55M was used for equipment and supplies to the Faculty of Technology's laboratories, pursued by the GGMC, Some $10 M was expended on training; some $16M was for infrastructural projects through UG. When Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, handed over the first tranche of the funds ($45M) to the Vice Chancellor last year, he noted the government views the initiative as an investment in education, and development. The minister noted that the project is significant since “it represents a renewed and enhanced relationship with the Ministry and GGMC with the University of Guyana,” even as the oil and gas sector develops. Additionally, Trotman said that similar efforts are also needed in the gold and diamond mining sectors as they will not be neglected in the period, post-2020 when oil production begins.
Article adapted from: http://www.petroleumworld.com/story18061402.htm
UG to enjoy more autonomy under proposed system of governance
Under a proposed system of governance, the University of Guyana (UG) is expected to secure a greater level of administrative autonomy, which is set to eliminate special interest groups. Speaking to a gathering of media personnel at Herdmanston Lodge, Queenstown, yesterday, Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith announced that the university is exploring the possibility of self-governance through a “greater level of intellectual autonomy.”
According to the Vice-Chancellor, the recommendations are towards preventing any form of interference by political parties, and other special interest groups into the daily affairs of the University. He noted that several recommendations have been put forward by a special reform committee on governance for the revamp of U.G’s executive structure. The committee, headed by Professor Lawrence Carrington, has proposed a governance model which is for a smaller council and allows the Vice Chancellor and his team greater scope to run the institution.
“The recommendation is that there should be a slimmer council on governance focused on competencies and not special interest representation. That’s a significant modification on what is recommended for change. Also key among the proposals is the recommendation that there should be no partisan political or special interest representation at the University Council. “There should be no ruling party representative or opposition party representative on the Council. The proposals give no legal, medical, private sector, framers and overseas university representatives the right to interfere in the daily management of the institution,” Professor Griffith emphasized.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, the proposals came as a result of several committee meetings and broader consultations across UG campuses which included the student body and the unions. He dismissed any possibility of arbitrary leadership at UG, since there are other layers of the executive which will be involved in the decision-making process including the Academic Board, Finance and General Purposes Committee, and Council of Deans. Added to that, Professor Griffith said that representatives of the tertiary institution have met with Attorney General Basil Williams to discuss amendments to the legislation, since the Act, and Statues which govern UG have not undergone any significant revision since 1963.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Carrington and his team have been working on their final report which will be submitted on July 26 at an extraordinary meeting. The meeting will finalise what the Act should be. Further to that, the Act needs to go for approval in Parliament. The statutes are really the internal governance arrangements, he added. The reform committee was established as a follow-up measure to the UG Transformational Task Force established in 2016. The task force had recognized the need for a Committee to assess and make recommendations for adjustments and/or amendments to the University’s Act and Statutes, including the composition of the Council and the core competencies required for effective Governance.
It was also noted that a critical imperative in the transformation process must be the recognition by all stakeholders that UG is an autonomous institution. The Task Force members also conceded that “there must be strict adherence to the principles of effective governance being dependent on, inter alia, vision, dedication, time commitment, leadership, transparency, openness, objectivity and trust. It was also agreed upon that UG, through its Council, must be accountable to the Government, students, staff, donors, alumni and the wider Guyanese community.
In keeping with the principle of effective governance, it was agreed that there should be a clear distinction between the Council’s role in approving and overseeing policy in accordance with the provisions of the Act, Statutes and Regulations, and that of the Administration, whose role is to execute policy and be responsible for the day to day administration of the University.
UG Vice Chancellor to have greater control of UG's day-to-day operations
The University of Guyana (UG) on Tuesday announced that a proposal is on the table for a smaller Council that will be solely responsible for policy while the Vice Chancellor and team will be given greater autonomy to run the institution.
UG Registrar, Dr. Nigel Gravesande said the Task Force’s proposed removal of political party, legal, medical, private sector, farmers and overseas university representatives from the Council would aim to ensure a “greater level of intellectual autonomy” for the institution.
“The contraction of its membership ought not to be interpreted that sectoral interests would not be taken into consideration, but mechanisms would be put in place to ensure that these interests find their way into the governance operations, whether it is at the level of the Council that they be invited or the Academic Board, for example, to which private sector’s involvement in curriculum review, curriculum refocussing to meet the developmental needs can in fact be catered for,” he told the media.
The Registrar explained that the intention is for the Vice Chancellor to enjoy greater autonomy to deal with “operational issues with a mechanism for accountability that is clear” and for the Council to deal with policy matters. “For the last fifty years, one saw an intrusion by the University Council into operational issues of the university; the day-to-day administration,” said Gravesande.
He added that the Vice Chancellor would have to account to the Council at an Annual Business Meeting. He would be required to submit Statements of Account and report on activities.
For his part, UG Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith brushed aside the question of a possible ‘runaway administration’ that will make major decisions in the absence of Council. “I don’t see the prospect, whether I’m the Vice Chancellor or whoever is the Vice Chancellor, or a runaway Vice Chancellor,” he said, adding that there are other layers of decision-making such as the Academic Board, Finance and General Purposes Committee, and Council of Deans.
He reiterated that advisory boards would be established to support Advisory Boards in faculties “Governance recommendation is that there should be a slimmer governance council focussed on competencies and not special interest representation. That is a significant recommendation to what is proposed as the current governance arrangement,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor said a two-day meeting of the Governance Committee, which is headed by former UG Vice Chancellor Professor Lawrence Carrington,last week concretised its recommendations that would be contained in a final report to an extraordinary Council meeting scheduled for July 26, 2018.
The Vice Chancellor and Head of UG’s Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris have since met Attorney General, Basil Williams who was presented with a number of recommendations for revamping the University of Guyana Act. A similar meeting was held with Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry.
Under the chairmanship of UG Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris, a transformation task force has examined the need for revamping the governance structure of the 55-year old tertiary institution whose Act and statutes “have not undergone significant revision”. The Governance Reform Committee, headed by former UG Vice Chancellor Professor Lawrence Carrington, has since submitted a report to the Council that called for wider consultatipon.
Article adapted from: http://demerarawaves.com/2018/06/12/ug-vice-chancellor-to-have-greater-control-of-ugs-day-to-day-operations-interest-groups-to-be-removed-from-council-if-governance-model-changes/
No political interference at UG - Vice Chancellor
Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG) Professor Ivelaw Griffith today lauded the hands-off approach of the current administration, in allowing the unrestricted day-to-day running of the institution.
The VC has been at the helm of the country’s premier tertiary institution for the past two years. He said since assuming that position, there has been no attempt to curtail his work or that of the university by the government; something that had shaped the university for years.
He was speaking to the members of the media at his second media luncheon at the Herdmanston lodge earlier today.
“As an indication of an achievement, sometimes you have to ask yourself not only what has been done, but what has not been done. I have not had a government minister, or the President or Permanent Secretary tell me who to hire, who to admit, who to graduate or who to give a scholarship to,” the VC said today.
This, he said is testimony that the administration clearly understands it’s role.
“The practising business, as usual, is not in the best interest of the University or the society and that for me is a signally important achievement.”
The VC spoke of his meetings with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Public Telecommunication, Public Health and Education that have been lending support to the University.
“I’m comforted in the support from government entities and non-governmental entities i- moving along,” he said.
A governance task force had already decided that there be no special or partisan interest represented on the university’s council. The Vice Chancellor said changes are occurring at the institution.
Article adapted from: http://dpi.gov.gy/no-political-interference-at-ug-vice-chancellor/
Professor Ivelaw Griffith turns two years as UG Vice Chancellor
Press Secretary and Television Anchor Malika N. Ramsey sits down with University of Guyana Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith. The two discuss improvements at the University of Guyana In the last two years.
UG Administration and senior staff union agree on salary increases
The University of Guyana Administration and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) reached an agreement on salary increases of six percent for UA staff for 2017, after months of negotiations. Although the Administration and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) had inked their agreement for a raise of 8% for UB staff earlier, the UGWU also needed to be part of the settlement, as it also represents some UA workers.
In addition to the Memorandum of Agreement, which covers the salary increase and stresses the importance of performance, the officials signed a Letter of Understanding which addresses the issues of timely grade submission and the design and implementation of a new performance management system. The signing of the two documents occurred on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. Vice- Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith represented the University Administration, Dr Jewel Thomas, President of the UGSSA, signed on behalf of her union, and Mr Bruce Haynes, president of UGWU, signed on behalf of that body. The event took place at the Ministry of Social Protection, and was witnessed by Ms Karen Van Sluytman, Acting Chief Labour Officer. Also in attendance was Mr Lincoln Lewis of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, who was instrumental in securing the settlement.
The Agreement and the Letter pave the way forward as it relates to overall performance of all staff members, particularly the submission of grades by the teaching staff. The timely submission of grades has been a perennial issue at UG, and the Administration has sought the support of the Union to remind its members of their obligations to our students. The Administration acknowledges the tremendous work done by most staff members and is committed to ensuring improved service delivery by all staff. Thus, the deadline for submission of all outstanding grades has been extended to December 1, 2017. Staff who will not have met their obligations by then will not receive salary increases.
The stage is now set for some seven hundred (700) full-time and part-time academic and non-academic staff at the UA Level to receive an increase of six (6) percent across-the-board in their December salaries, as well as payments retroactive to January 1, 2017. As with the agreement signed on November 8, 2017 with the UGWU, the offer from the Administration was made in the context of what is affordable, in keeping with the mandate from the University Council, and it stresses the importance of performance.
Vice-Chancellor Griffith noted, “Today’s signing also sets the stage for a new normal at the university, where performance is just as important as payment, and where accountability and affordability are key to enhancing educational entrepreneurship.” Further, he reiterated that, “as regards affordability, these increases are not our only financial obligations. We still have an average of 4.5 percent merit award to
From left: Mr Bruce Haynes, President of UGWU; Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith; and Dr Jewel Thomas, President of the UGSSA
fund, as well as allowances for traveling, entertainment, and academic materials. We also have to cater for study leave (salary and housing for three months), sabbatical leave (salary and housing for 12 months), leave passage, and responsibility allowances for Coordinators, Heads, and Deans. I am delighted that we are able to close this chapter and begin paying the increases”.
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 the Natural Sciences, 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 The UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE). The UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.
Public Relations Division
November 21, 2017
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UG seeking to establish food and nutrition institute
As Guyana continues to place emphasis on food and nutrition security, the Agriculture Ministry and the University of Guyana is seeking to establish a food and nutrition security institute.
At the consultation exercise, which was recently held at the Marriott Hotel, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder stated that much emphasis is being placed on strengthening food and nutrition security in the Caribbean and Government continues to plug an immense number of resources into strategies aimed at strengthening such areas.
“With an investment of over US$60 million in agriculture over the past decade, Guyana has been addressing all areas of food security from the reorganisation of the support systems, legislative upgrades, stimulation of production, implementation of new standards such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), to the introduction of Good Manufacturing Practices and HACCP in the Agro-processing industry,” Minister Holder said. With international statistics depicting the high prevalence of malnutrition, Minister Holder also echoed the call for new strategies and ideas to be developed, adding that revisiting old ideas and the development of new technologies to increase productivity is essential to combat this phenomenon. “New systems to combat post-harvest losses, new ways of thinking to develop Food Safety Systems to not only to protect consumers’ health but to reduce spoilage and increase the shelf life and storage of foodstuff must also be developed.”
Holder noted The meeting focused on highlighting pressing food and nutrition insecurity challenges, which include poverty, uneven economic growth, unhealthy diets leading to increasing prevalence of nutrition-related chronic diseases and stability issues possibly related to climate change. Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith said agriculture should not be forgotten since areas like oil and gas are mainly being focused on.
“As the nation pursues energy and gas, we must not neglect agriculture. The pull to oil and gas usually results in push away from agriculture. I hope we do not fall victim to this push and pull factor. As a university, we must ask ourselves – are we doing what we need to do to address the clear and present dangers of food and nutrition insecurity? Universities have the responsibility and are obligated to deal with these issues,” Griffith stated.
Article adapted from:http://guyanatimesgy.com/ug-seeking-to-establish-food-and-nutrition-institute/
UG turns sod for Student Society building
The University of Guyana (UG) on Wednesday held a ceremonial turning of the sod for the proposed Student Society Complex Building at its Turkeyen Campus.
According to a Department of Public Information (DPI) report, the building is currently being constructed by M & P Investments on the southern section of the Turkeyen Campus. It is expected to be completed in February, 2018.
UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith explained that it was through the persistence of the past students’ leadership that the $60.6 million, 7,650 square ft, two-storey building would become possible. He was optimistic that the student body will make full use of the facility upon it completion, the report stated.
“I am hoping that two things happen; that the students, who are going to be beneficiaries of the hard work and investment, use this facility appropriately; [and] my second request is the incoming president and leadership find ways to reestablish the vibrancy of student life,” the report quoted him as saying.
According to the release, the incoming president of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS), Norwell Hinds, also commended the past student leadership’s efforts and the administrative body for the initiative.
“This student complex stands historically and symbolically at a particular juncture of transformation and transition for the university and the student society. We are particularly pleased to build upon the legacy of past presidents of the UGSS and to congratulate the administration for its efforts in this particular transformation,” the report quoted Hinds as saying.
Outgoing president Ron Glasgow highlighted that in previous years, the student population was deprived of certain benefits, since the campus lacked a student complex. He applauded the administrative committee’s support for the project.
The sod-turning ceremony saw the attendance of past UGSS presidents, who shared their views on the construction of the complex, according to the report.
“It’s a real privilege to see this project unfold…a lot of energy has been expended in the past pushing for student improved facilities and it’s a real privilege to see it come to fruition and we congratulate students and the university’s administration,” past president Sherod Duncan was quoted as saying.
Wage hikes for academic staff should be linked to performance
University of Guyana (UG) Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith is not backing down from his insistence that wage hikes for academic staff be tied to their performance.
“This university has lots of performance issues,” Griffith noted on Friday, while saying it would be irresponsible of him to negotiate salaries and not speak of the performance of staff.
The two workers unions, the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU), have said that performance cannot be part of any agreement for 2017 wages and salaries.
Speaking to reporters after the installation of the new student council, Griffith explained that he is of the view that delinquent lecturers who do not submit their grades in timely manner should not be given a salary increase.
“It is not fair to students and it is not fair to the lecturers who submit grades on time… every lecturer is responsible for doing the right job every time. We want timely submission of grades. If you don’t submit… you should not get a salary increase,” he declared.
Following a meeting last Wednesday with the UGSSA and UGWU and trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, Griffith said that they had extracted the performance criteria clause from the original agreement and placed it as an appendix item in the document.
He explained that the administration has prepared the final document, which he has to review before tabling it once again for the unions.
“There is one principle that I enunciated that will not change: that is the performance which has to be a part of the solution…,” he said, while acknowledging that the unions shared a different view. “The union was saying there should not be anything about performance but I said no. So, I am hoping that they are bendable and they didn’t raise any objections,” said Griffith while noting that he is ready to pay the increases.
Following negotiations with the unions, the UG administration recently announced its final pay hike offer of 8% and 6% to support and academic staff members, respectively, retroactive to January 1. Griffith indicated that the administration “had done enough” and “nothing further would be provided.”
Addressing the allegation that the university administration was being secretive about the breakdown of $182 million that was allocated for the increases, Griffith maintained that it is not necessary. “The union wants to see if there is any space for more and in the context of affordability we were working on it is what we have put on the table and that is what we can afford. I will not be offering something we can’t find the money for. The $182 million is what we have and can afford…,” he said.
The unions were adamant that the administration had failed to honour all their requests for financial and other information and refused to provide the breakdown of the $182 million.
The unions are saying that according to their calculations, if $182 million was to be paid solely to academic and support staff, considering all the payments to be made for the various allowances, pensions, and NIS, it would allow for a higher offer to be made to staff.
Unions urge reform to insulate council from interference
Meanwhile, the two unions on Friday said that the impasse over wages and salaries has dragged on in part due to the absence of the University Council.
In a joint statement, the UGSSA and the UGWU noted that the life of the previous Council ended on July 12 and there has been no explanation to date about why a new Council is not in place, although they said they understand that Minister of Education Nicolette Henry is working on its formation.
The unions noted that a Governance Committee created by the last University Council is currently considering amendments to the existing UG Act and Statutes. “The Unions, in keeping with their longstanding interest in governance, made a submission to that Committee. We feel that one of the key objectives of any reform of the existing governance structure of the University is to ensure that the Council is able to function without political interference,” they said.
As part of a movement towards this, the unions noted that they have always advocated for an appointments process for Council members that allowed the various interest groups to nominate their representatives, and that this was the approach adopted by former Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnaraine. “We hope that Minister Henry will also allow the organisations to nominate representatives, and so help to facilitate the Council functioning in as non-partisan a way as possible. We are interested in having a Council that seeks what is the best for the University and undertakes to perform its oversight role with diligence and care,” they added, while expressing the hope that the new Council will be in place for the University’s Annual Business Meeting, which is usually scheduled for Convocation Week in early November.
- The University of Guyana