Mar 08, 2013 News
– as extensive improvement plans unveiled
“If you want quality degrees you will pay for it; nobody gets quality for free. If students can’t pay for it, somebody’s got to pay for it; either the private sector or scholarships, somebody’s got to pay for it.”
This was the emphatic assertion of newly-appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Jacob Opadeyi, who was at the time seeking to justify plans in the pipelines to increase tuition costs at the tertiary institution.
In his inaugural press conference held yesterday at the University’s Turkeyen Campus Education Lecture Theatre, the Vice Chancellor alluded to the need for qualified lecturers who would have attained Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. He insisted that “somebody has to pay them for that. If you don’t want to pay them for that, then you will get low quality teachers.”
“How can you get a good lawyer to come and teach law in this university? You have to pay that person to stop all practices and come and teach here. If you want a good medical doctor to teach here you have to pay that person to stop all private practices…and somebody has got to pay for it.”
Professor Opadeyi related that it currently costs the university some $355,000 to educate each student, while the tuition costs stand at just over $120,000 for most. Although unable to precisely state the deficit at the University, the Vice Chancellor speculated that it is somewhere in the vicinity of $300 million.
In referring to salaries, Professor Opadeyi stressed that “everything needs to go up; it is a total package. If you want high quality teachers you need to pay high quality salaries.”
As such, he expressed confidence that Government will support the move to up the tuition fee, since according to him “it is commonsense. There is no Government service that has not increased its prices in this country…so it is just commonsense.”
The only challenge with implementing the tuition change, according to the Vice Chancellor, is the modality, that is, “how we should, not why we should do it, and if Government says we are not going to increase tuition, the University is going to say ‘this is the extra bill you have to pay’….This is the cost of giving that person the quality education that you wanted.”
Moreover, Professor Opadeyi sought to emphasise that “education is a business; education is not something like ‘I love you and I want to give you education’. It’s not about love, it’s about you getting your degree and going and fighting it out, out there and getting money.”
The Nigerian-born Professor made a point of highlighting that even an individual’s chance of getting a visa is higher.
“You apply for visa and you say I have a degree your chances of getting the visa is higher, because quickly they look at it that you belong to this category of social echelon. So we should not treat it as something that we like you and you just go and get education.”
He said that there is an imperative need to improve the facilities and services, all of which cost money.
According to him, money should not be raised through begging, but rather through the services that are being sold.
“What are the services that we are selling at this university? We are selling education…we are selling a certificate. For the Vice Chancellor to sign that this person has a BSc, it means that the Vice Chancellor has received the cheque for the work that was put in to get that degree.”
Speaking to the role of the university, Professor Opadeyi insisted that it is not merely to award degrees to nationals, but rather to prepare them to take advantage of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
“Let our Guyanese nationals go to Trinidad and fight it up as engineers, not as traders. Go to other countries in the Region and fight it up as professionals and that is an investment that we have to make,” he insisted.
Nigeria, according to the Professor, had in fact made such an investment, which at one point allowed for some 30 per cent of doctors in Trinidad to be Nigerians. This state of affairs, he said, had brought with it some level of respectability to Nigeria, even as he made reference to “when 80 per cent of Guyanese in Barbados are labourers, how does that sound? We need to revise that…revise that by investing in human resource development and let our people go and fight it out wherever they are…The way I am fighting it out here…we need to find a way to make them more competitive.”
Professor Opadeyi’s deliberations were forthcoming yesterday as he sought to detail elaborate plans intended to help improve the operations of the tertiary institution, which will range from a curriculum review every five years; the appointment of external lecturers and the review of all academic programmes. He disclosed plans, too, to have all professional programmes offered at the university be accredited, even as the quality of lecturers and examinations and results are examined.
The plans, according to Professor Opadeyi, will also extend to moves by the University to access a radio licence – an avenue he believes will help to exhibit the radio-hosting talent of students which could range from poetry to musical renditions.
However, following the Vice Chancellor’s ambitious deliberation, President of the University’s Student Society, Ganesh Mahipaul, insisted that a tuition increase would only be supported if the move towards improved lecturers and facilities are realised.
“As it is right now, we don’t see a need to introduce a raise in the tuition fee. If you go to the market and you see two types of mangoes, you are going to buy the quality one; you have to see quality first,” insisted Mahipaul, who is of the firm belief that quality service should be an investment on the part of Government or the private sector.
“They should invest in education, because at the end of the day it is going to benefit Guyana,” he posited.
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