The University of Guyana (UG) is the only national tertiary educational institution in the country but it has problems. With less than 5,000 full-time students, UG seems to be top-heavy with an administration staff comprised a non-resident Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Cabinet, Vice Chancellor of Chief of Staff, three deputy Vice Chancellors, Registrar, four deputy Registrars and several Directors and deputy Directors.It needs money and lots of it if it is to make it a modern educational institution, but its administrators have their priorities mixed-up.
Many believe that reforming UG, upgrade its lighting and computer systems, improve its primitive science labs, update its library and its toilet facilities and provide better seating accommodation to students should be the highest priority of its administrators. Unfortunately, its senior staff is more interested in spending the institution’s money on inconsequential ceremonial functions. It is known by students and faculty that most of the courses offered at UG needed to be upgraded and its faculty should be more qualified. UG is not even a fourth-rate institution and its ranking will not improve by its-top heavy staff who are bent on boosting their image, and not on its programs and a qualified faculty.
An independent assessment has revealed that UG is below the desired standards as a post-secondary educational institution. Its infrastructure, including its library and science labs are in poor shape, and many of its academic programs are woefully inadequate and outdated. According to the assessment, it will take a huge inflow of funds, perhaps in the hundreds of millions of dollars, a qualified faculty and a new teaching philosophy to reverse this horrible situation. The University needs proactive, visionary and transformative leadership to reinvent itself and to reverse years of neglect and decline which is evident today throughout the institution’s academic programmes. Simply put, putting the interests of UG first is the key to improve its image and ranking as an educational institution.
The injection of funds is very urgent. Quite often governments have promised to increase funding for UG, but they were not fulfilled which remind us of the eloquent phrase “a promise is a comfort to a fool.” The failure by the last administration to fulfil its financial obligation to the university is due to its lack of interest to educate the masses, because in doing so, it will not be able to control or convince them to vote along racial lines.
The fiscal challenges facing this government, as difficult as they may be, yet it has kept its promise to provide funds to the University. But given its highly publicized financial problems, UG cannot depend solely on the government for funding. It must seek funds from the private sector as well as end the reckless spending on ceremonial functions. The increase in tuition fees, the minor changes to its academic programmes or the miniscule endowments it attracts yearly will not solve its problems.The plan towards ensuring that UG becomes self-sufficient has been made more difficult in light of the financial circumstances it now finds itself. It can be a turn-off for would-be students who have greater choice of universities overseas to pursue their education.
That said, the recent announcement by UG’s Vice Chancellor to award honorary doctorates at its convocation later this year is highly unusual for a university that does not have a doctoral program. As an educational institution, UG has some very serious academic problems. Its Master’s Degree programme is hardly functioning, the quality of its graduates has deteriorated and it has not been able to attract and retain a qualified faculty with Ph.Ds, among other issues. The vast majority of its faculty have only first and second degrees. It is true that universities usually confer honorary doctorate degrees on persons who do not have such degrees, but who are eminent in their respective fields with the thoroughness which can be deemed equivalent to Ph.D graduates. The decision by the University is unusual and baffling to academics.
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