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.
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