Kaieteur News – The University of Guyana (UG) is a third-rate university. Regardless of who says otherwise, UG is not in any league of its own, much less to be in the Ivy League.
Comparing the University of the West Indies (UWI) to UG is like comparing cheese to chalk. UG simply does not have the resources and the leadership, intellectual and administrative, to compare with UWI.
UG has some good quality lecturers but there are dozens who are simply not up to standard. There was a time, a few years ago, when persons with first degrees were allowed to lecture at UG. To lecture at UWI, the minimum qualification is a doctorate.
To gain entry into UWI you need at least ‘A’ levels or CAPE. UG admission requirements are far lower and a great many alternative qualifications, which are accepted by UG, such as the Certificate in Industrial Relations from Critchlow Labour College.
When you think about the long-standing issue of sanitation blocks at UG and the complaints about these blocks, which went on for years, it should be obvious that there should be no attempt to compare the administration of the two universities. UWI would never tolerate its students having “stables” as classrooms.
Despite the improvements over the last decade, UG’s library facilities leave much to be desired. Students can now access databases to which UG subscribes but UWI has first-class libraries and access to some of the best online academic journals and e-books.
For over 40 years, UG has had a resource problem. It has long recognized this problem but has been unable to overcome it. UG has failed to generate sufficient resources to meet its basic needs. Without government support, UG would flop overnight.
At one time, a variety of ideas was floated as to how UG could generate additional funding apart from student fees and government subventions. It was touted that the University can use its brainpower to undertake consultancies and provide educational services, which would bring in revenues. It was all hot air!
When you look at private education in Guyana; when you think about the lack of skills within the economy, there is a large market out there, which UG should have long tapped into and dominated. They have not, because UG is being run like a school rather than along the lines of a business model. This column had long suggested that the University convert itself into a campus of schools, each semi-autonomously administered. However, this was too ambitious a model for our university administrators.
UG runs a medical programme and a law degree programme, which attracts higher fees than other courses. Yet every year dozens of students with the requisite qualifications are not accepted into these programmes because places are limited. The obvious solution should have been to expand the number of places to be able to meet the demand for these programmes.
The UG Law degree should have been marketed as a regional product and the school should have been turning out hundreds of law graduates each year. The same should have happened with our medical degree. Instead of students having to go to Cuba to train as doctors, we should have been asking the Cubans to send their medical lecturers to lecture to a much larger cohort than presently exists. A number of medical schools are now competing with the UG medical degree and it is only a matter of time before they force the closure of UG’s medical programme.
The advent of Open Campuses in which online learning is targeting a wider market for students was always going to sound the death-knell for UG. Instead of going regional and international by having its own Open Campus brand, UG’s brand emphasizes it as being a national university. In the meantime, UWI and other universities are extending their reach internationally.
UG should have been able by now to be offering courses internationally, using online platforms, in areas such as forestry, agriculture, West Indian cricket, law and medicine. It is not ready and therefore other universities are going to target the Guyana market. With the use of technology, these external universities will establish a virtual presence rather than physical presence. UG has no future; it cannot compete and it will have to close; that is the reality.
These foreign universities do not need any government permission to come. They can advertise their programmes online conduct student registration online, lecture online, hold online or in-person examinations and host virtual graduation ceremonies. No government permission is needed for this.
The government nor students should wait on UG to get its act together. It will never get its act together. The intellectual class in this country has been a failure. With technology, UG’s vulnerability to competition will now be further exposed.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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