Although threats have been made to shut down the University of Guyana (UG), should no word be forthcoming in relation to the disbursement of students’ loan, there are ambitious plans apace to improve the operation of the tertiary institution.
At least this is according to Vice Chancellor, Professor Jacob Opadeyi, who, during a recent press conference disclosed that the University’s administration has already had discussions in relation to the implementation of a few technological features to cater to the facility’s improved functioning.
These measures, Professor Opadeyi noted, will not only cater to improving the delivery of lecture sessions but help to improve the financial accountability of the institution.
And financial accountability is of utmost importance at the University as it was the lack of this very feature that resulted in the University being reduced to a cash-strapped state.
Since assuming the position of Vice Chancellor last year, Professor Opadeyi was able to detect financial irregularities which warranted a special audit.
The audit, which was conducted on a pro bono basis by expert auditors from the University of the West Indies, had substantiated the Vice Chancellor’s observations.
The recommendations, following the special audit, included that both the then Bursar, John Seeram and Chief Accountant, Hazel Bentick, be terminated.
With the termination of the two senior Bursary staffers, both positions have since been filled by aptly qualified persons, and according to the Vice Chancellor, the operation of the University, in terms of financial accountability, has improved.
But according to him, the accountability at the University will not be merely dependent on the personnel.
He disclosed that in addition to setting up a number of Committees that will include student representatives, to manage new introductions such as the Facilities Fee, students are now required to pay. “We are investing in software that (will) make our accounting system transparent to all the stakeholders.”
Moreover, he noted that fees paid to the University will not be managed merely by the University’s administration, but rather, it will see students being involved in the decision-making process in terms of how the University’s money will be expended.
Added to this, the University will be seeking to invest in software to allow students’ timetables to be accessed via the internet. This measure, according to Professor Opadeyi, should see students being able to check their timetables on their smart phones. “So you don’t have to try to remember what classes you have today,” said the Vice Chancellor as he related that further measures will entail the mounting of monitors at various points of the campus; so as to enable students to know which classes are ongoing and in which classrooms.
The University has campuses at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, and Tain, Berbice.
Among the features that are also slated to be introduced shortly is the inclusion of projectors in classrooms, according to the Vice Chancellor, who insisted that “those are some of the visible changes we are going to make.”
All the proposed measures, he said, will cater to efficiency at the University. And according to him too, “we are negotiating so that things will be installed by the 1st of September, 2014”.
Moreover, he is convinced that “these things that we are implementing, I would tell you, that by the middle of the semester people will see the changes we are talking about.”
The University last month announced an increase in its tuition fee from $127,000, which will see new students having to pay, from this year, $160,000 while the continuing students will be required to pay $130,000. The hike in the fee is however, not across the board since there are some programmes, particularly those in Health Sciences that have retained their fees.
And although the University’s administration is concerned about whether Government will make provision for students to access loans through the Ministry of Finance’s Loan Agency, Head of State, President Donald Ramotar, has given assurance that the situation will be addressed ahead of the start of the academic year.
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