Mar 31, 2017 News
-UG students tell Council members
As members of the University of Guyana Council drove into the parking lot of the Education Lecture Theatre yesterday, dissatisfied students were already waiting there to vent their annoyance at the proposed 35 percent increase
in tuition fees.
The council members were on their way to discuss and make pronouncements on a number of matters, including the tuition fees hike.
The picket, which was promised to be a silent one, began on a loud note, with students chanting, “Raise the standards and not the fees!”, “No increase, no increase,” and “35 percent – no way, no way.”
The students are maintaining that some of the services being offered at the university, and the deplorable conditions under which these are offered, do not require any increased tuition fees.
“As a matter of fact, they should even decrease what they charging, because we have had enough. It is overbearing and unfair,” one student said.
Others complained specifically about the poorly ventilated classrooms, inadequate washroom facilities, and in some cases, lecturers who they believe are educated, but unable to teach.
Poor internet connection, and in some cases, the lack thereof, is also a major concern for students.
Many also expressed frustration over the fact that students are required to pay for equipment that is sometimes not delivered, or is of a “disgraceful” quality.
“In the technology/architecture department, ya’ll should see these drawing tables that we drawing on. Is a piece of plywood on a table. How can you draw on a thing like that?” one student asked.
Those enrolled at the University of Guyana are demanding better facilities, before agreeing to pay any increased tuition fees.
The students have dismissed the argument that the university’s administration would only be able to provide better conditions if the increased tuition fees are paid.
Yog Mahadeo, Former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) was among the protestors. Armed with a print-out of the 2017 Budget allocations for the University of Guyana, Mahadeo concluded that the document is a clear indication that the institution does not need more money, but better management of existing funds.
“If you take the number of students that UG has, and multiply it by the $50,000 facilities fee every year, they are raising over $350M annually…that’s aside from the tuition fees,” Mahadeo said.
In the National 2017 Budget, $2.9B was allocated to the University of Guyana. According to the Budget estimates, the tertiary education institution had a surplus of $97M.
“If you can’t manage the funds you are getting, then why are you charging the students more?” Mahadeo argued.
In addition to not seeing the need for the increases, students say that more importantly, many of them are not in a position to afford it.
“Sometimes I don’t get passage to come to classes…I does can’t even buy snacks or a drink or anything. Any increase that they decide to put on, gon kill my mother, and I don’t have a father to look after me,” Russhel Braithwaite, told Kaieteur News.
Even though the University’s Turkeyen campus has a student population of over 7,000 students, the protest yesterday merely comprised a few dozen persons.
It was explained, however, that many persons were forced to stay away from the exercise due to other commitments such as work, examinations or important class sessions.
Meanwhile, UG’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith has maintained his stance, which is that the institution needs to have a proper resource pool, which can only be funded by three sources – tuition fees, government subvention and donations and fund-raising ventures.
Nonetheless, should the UG council go ahead and permit the proposed increases, students have promised more intensified protest action.
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