The Coalition Government has not been doing enough to address issues facing the University of Guyana. This is according to Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
He noted during a press conference last Thursday that Professor Ivelaw Griffith decided to rescind his request for his contract to be renewed as Vice Chancellor. However, the Opposition Leader said that there are still issues at the University and that government must act quickly, or there will be a major fall-out.
The institution’s two unions, the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), had heavily criticised the spending practices of the administration, complaining that money was being disproportionately allocated to the Vice Chancellery.
When Griffith indicated his intention to have his contract renewed, the unions advocated stringently for the Vice Chancellor to be evaluated for his contract renewal, as they had feared that his contract renewal would be considered without ample scrutiny of his record by the Council.
They had raised concerns about misallocation of funds and excessive spending by the administration, bringing Griffith’s tenure at the university under heavy public scrutiny, and the administration’s handling of its successive increased annual subventions.
Apart from those complaints, the university is facing several other issues. Both staffers and students have complained that basic toiletries and stationery are sometimes missing from some departments, an issue that Griffith vehemently denied.
There have been complaints about successive increases in tuition fees. The outcry resulted in the formation of a new group, the Free UG Movement, which has been advocating for fees to be removed completely. That movement has received the support of several trade unions and the UG Student Association.
There have been complaints of security issues too. Back in April, the UGSS requested police presence at the Turkeyen Campus in a 21-point manifesto to political parties. There have been multiple instances of robbery in and on the outskirts of campus, especially at its back entrance, according to UGSS President, Devta Ramroop.
Amidst all this, Griffith had campaigned for his contract to be renewed, outlining a 20-year vision for the development of the university.
He had responded to the unions’ protests, saying that, “the Administration welcomes the opportunity to clear the air on the allegations and assertions by the unions and other individuals.”
The Auditor General’s office had announced that it is preparing to conduct an audit of UG’s finances, but did not state when that audit would begin.
Previous attempts to audit UG under Griffith’s tenure had met staunch resistance, according to Accountant Christopher Ram, who had chaired the audit committee at the institution. Jagdeo said that the major issues UG is facing have to be addressed immediately, and that government should not treat these matters lightly.
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