University of Guyana Vice Chancellor Dr. Jacob Opadeyi has highlighted the entity’s ambition to minimize its dependence on foreign experts to work on local projects.
The institution hosted four days of extensive consultations with the anticipation of gaining the nation’s support to adjust the current tuition fee from $127,000 to approximately $200,000.
Opadeyi told students that the burden of paying tuition fees is not one that should be left solely on their shoulders. He said that the education of a nation should be a collective effort because it will be collectively beneficial.
Against this backdrop, the professor’s notion is that the government and the private sector should become more involved.
“What are the roles of the government and the private sector in this process? What if these companies had to teach every new employee everything before they can start work? Well then the private sector must see the need to get involved.”
The Professor referred to the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge which will be done by foreigners. He said that an increase in the University’s financial resources will allow for other courses to come on stream which will address the current shortage of specialized skills. “These people will only come, do their work and leave, let’s make sure that Guyanese can do it.”
“How much does government give for nursery and primary education, as compared to how much is given for a University education?”
He said that Guyana is not a poor country it is just a matter of prioritizing what to do with the money. Dr. Opadeyi made reference to Trinidad and Tobago’s policy to pay 50 percent tuition for each student who maintains a good Grade Point Average (GPA.)
President Donald Ramotar, in response, lauded the move to have public consultations and said that he himself has some ideas on how “we can use the fee structure to develop some of the skills that we badly need.”
But he said that he is waiting for the University to approach his administration with the issues.
He said that the issue needs extensive discussions and he will like to solicit the input of specialists even though he has a “good idea on what is going on.”
The President said he believes lots can be done differently, and “as far as the fees are concerned, we have to study this very carefully, we don’t want to deny those who have talent to move ahead.”
In 1994, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government had set the tuition fee at US$1000 which was equivalent to G$127,000. The exchange rate at the time was G$127 to US$1. While the tuition fee will not increase from US$1000, the University’s Administration under the leadership of Vice Chancellor, Dr. Jacob Opadeyi, is hoping to adjust the fee to the current exchange rate in which G$205.9 (Bank of Guyana figures) is equivalent to US$1.
Dr. Opadeyi told the media last week that the increase is long overdue, pointing out that while the prices of goods and services have increased drastically over the years, the tuition fee has remained stagnant.
If the tuition fee is increased, Dr Opadeyi said, no one will be left behind in the process due to their inability to pay such an increase. “We are going to show our human face and it is not going to be strictly business… we will have systems in place for those among us who cannot afford the cost to attend the university, we are going to sit down with those persons and work out a plan,” he said.
Opadeyi related that there is a need for positive change at UG and it is either the University is kept in its current state or it makes the necessary improvements to become internationally competitive.
He stressed that there is a need for resources which have been lacking at the facility and the hike in tuition fee will aid the institution’s development.
“We need to create a new future for the University” – the challenges faced by UG are enormous and as a result growth is stifled” said Opadeyi.
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